As ever, the personal has often been political in Tracey Thorn's work. Across 4 decades, her songs and writing have offered up a clear-eyed woman's view of the immediate world around her, from the acerbic teen love songs of her first early '80s band Marine Girls through sixteen years as one-half of articulate multimillion-selling duo Everything But The Girl, to her recent acclaimed memoirs and journalism. "I think I've always written songs which chronicle the milestones of a woman's life," she says. "Different ages and stages, different realities not often discussed in pop lyrics. If 2010's Love and Its Opposite was my mid-life album – full of divorce and hormones – then this album represents that sense of liberation that comes in the aftermath, from embarking on a whole new ‘no fucks given' phase of life."
On Record, the synth-driven tracks arrive and leave with a punchy sub-3-minute directness. If the album is in part about freedom and disenthrallment, "Queen" is the opening broadside, all personal fire and desire. "Air," featuring backing vocals and synths from Shura, addresses identity and gender stereotypes, while "Smoke" looks at Tracey's fear that her love of London and its freedoms are being eroded. "Guitar" is a celebration of that instrument as a tool of a teenage girl's liberation. Ewan Pearson peppers them all with fizzing analogue synths and smart mirror-ball beats. For all its no-fuss pop brevity, the album revolves around "Sister," a dubby 9-minute Compass Point-style disco jam featuring an all-female crew as Tracey is backed by Warpaint's rhythm section and joined by Corinne Bailey Rae on glorious backing vocals.
The crisp final stretch takes in "Babies" (a hymn to contraception and choice), "Go" (about kids leaving home), and the closing vocoder-streaked "Dancefloor," a eulogy to hedonism and clubland. And yes, of course, that voice: self-assured and richly textured, yet confessional and affecting, it spits out the lyrics on Record with a fresh compelling drive. It remains one of the finest female pop voices out there.