Saturday, 29 November 2008

Blancmange, Happy Families (1982)


Do you know what is a great album? Blancmange’s Happy Families (1982). Electropop? Did you say Electropop? Very eighties, that. Not just eighties, but very eighties. Throw those words together, ‘vereighties’, and you have a term invariably used as unambiguous dispraise. But we need to distinguish between shit electropop and great electropop, and this album is the latter. The boingy, springy baselines, striding octaves, stepping effortlessly across the chasms from tonic to fourths to fifths and back again: daddy-long-legs baselines. Fluting, jittery synth-lines. And that distinctive percussion, all ersatz hammerblows and synthcymbals, like an overcaffeinated DIYer bashing away downstairs. And the vocals! My, the vocals. ‘Feel Me’ is, like, the best track Talking Heads never recorded; though not a cover-version, ‘I Can’t Explain’ snaps off the Who’s metal coverhatch to rewire rawk as minor-key boingy snythesising, and ‘Living On The Ceiling’ (no more room down there, you see) is outrageously good. That means, its virtue goes to 'rage' and then beyond. Outrageous. ‘God’s Kitchen’ is pretty lame, but then again you can’t have everything.

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