Blancmange Semi Detached on Limited Edition Import LP
Blancmange bring their bitter-sweet electronic songs to Cherry Red Records with their new album, Semi Detached. The tracks are shot through with lyrics inspired by Neil Arthur's instinct for surreal juxtapositions and abstract wordplay. The eight minute opener "The Fall" sets the tone with its imaginative mix of the London tube map, The Fall (the band), Heaven and Hell, suicide, ghostly (inner) reflection and rain-soaked romantic imagery. The synthesizer melody is lightly done but the narrative is one of broken hearts and tragedy.
"I Want More" is a cover of Can's only ‘pop hit' from their 1976 album Flow Motion. The repetitive refrain of the title initially comes across as joyous, the soaring melody and rousing chorus of voices conveying a celebratory hedonism, but the song takes on a more foreboding edge against the backdrop of 21st century excess and its darker implications." Lead single "Paddington," celebrates London through a blur of evocative, fragmented images – a random memory recall of life in the city. Meanwhile, the coiled, moody electronica of "It Didn't Take Long" with the ice-in-veins kiss-off of ‘I'm not sorry I hurt you', is followed by the gleeful artificial power of the synthesizers on the instrumental, "MKS Lover."
"Like I Do" is gripped by a propulsive rhythm and staccato phrasing, mapping out a cross-roads moment in someone's life. "Deep In The Mine" is at the core of the album. The soul-mining lyric is delivered with a roughened-up, husky richness by the singer that reveals new depths to his voice. The tart "Acid" is what happens when wit turns to bitterness, while the playful "Useless" is the most openly ‘pop' song on the album - a whirling, giddy four minutes built around the sweet and pithy lyric, ‘everybody loves you/useless as you are.' The album, which is mixed by Adam Fuest, closes with one of the best – and darkest - songs Arthur has written so far, "Bloody Hell Fire."
Semi-Detached is Blancmange's fifth album to date, but the first without the involvement of Stephen Luscombe, Neils long term collaborator. While retaining Blancmanges characteristic humor, with this new album Arthur has moved on from some of the old ticks and mannerisms to create an edgy, pared down and deeply personal record, getting the balance absolutely right between grit and light, the domestic and the cosmic, despair and joy.