Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blancmange - Blanc Burn

After mentioning Blancmange as a nostalgic treat a couple of posts ago in the KTP I came across news that they were performing Happy Families in concernt and are rerecording/mixing and releasing it as Happy Families Too next month. And a bit of websearch revealed that an new album (their first in 25 years) Blanc Burn was released in 2011.

I had to get it. I got it.

Blancmange had a couple of big hits (Feel me, Living on the ceiling and some more) but were never as big as I thought they should be. They combined great beats, eclectic influences (mainly Indian), experimentalism, a great ear for a song (if you wonder about ABBA, listen to Blancmange's version of The day before you came).

After 25 years there have been technical developments and aging - Neil's voice is perhaps not as strong as it was, but this has added a greater air of world-weariness and possibly ennui. The opener, for example, By the busstop @ woolies uses a vocal that sounds like it could have been a voice message, and a focus on the local and small is reflected across the album

Musically it is strong and sounds fresh and very varied. There are some that sound like they could have been on the earlier albums - such as Drive me or The western and surprisingly they are the ones which excite the least - although they are exciting but more along the lines of developing the sound a bit rather than dramatically.

Ultraviolent, a story of local thugs in masks and with dogs as weapons, uses dense vocoder or autotune and has a descending chorus line which reminds me of the No no nos in I don't want to lose your love.

Radio therapy reminded me of Freeze Frame era Godley/Creme, and I'm having a coffee notes the focus in the album of the mundane smaller things.

What is hard to determine is how much I like this album because it's a new(ish now) Blancmange album and how much is the music itself? The way the songs have hooked into my brain I think it is probably the later - like Bowie's The Next Day the initial suprise and excitement has bled into just playing it because it is good. The name has probably helped push them through (though not so much that I had heard about the album!) but their skill has taken it on.

No comments: