By Johan Coorg, April 27, 2018
Front to Back Album Review: Tracey Thorn - Record
- Released: March 1, 2018
- Label: Merge Records
- Producer: Ewan Pearson
Four out of Five Play Buttons (after three plays...it started as 3 out of 4)
Tracey Thorn is best known as one half of the duo Everything but The Girl, from 1982 for almost two decades Thorn, together with Ben Watt, purveyed catchy, sullen and angst-ridden bedroom synth pop ballads. From those bedsit days, this writer’s EBTG kind of ‘guilty pleasure’ highlight is the 1994 haunting hit Missing. Todd Terry’s US Club remix of the song was almost certainly the song to bring Stateside and international fame to Thorn and Watt.
Thorn semi retired in 2000 to bring up a family with Watt who she married in 2008. During her retirement she also wrote a very entertaining book Bedsit Disco Queen. Now fifty-five, she has returned with a fifth solo album Record.
The lead track Queen immediately gets one swaying mid-eighties style to the very retro synth beat. Hang on a moment, is this Alison Moyet singing? No... after a minute or so it’s clearly Thorn – just a little huskier yet clearly recognisable. On to track two Air – more synth memories with the oh-so-eighties “peeeeeoo, peeeeooo" simple drum beat. Very pop. And so the album progresses in unmistakeable style, heralded by the very first chords, without wavering. More memories of 80s and 90s bands start to waft over the psyche. Gradually one dials into the other important aspect of what drives Thorn: the lyrics. On the longest track Sister familiar female sentiments and subject matter are brought bang up-to-date from the mind of a middle-aged grown up woman.
Altogether the album ain’t long – with the exception of the eight minute Sister, all tracks are pop song length of two and half to four minutes. More memories flood back on a second album listen: Why does the rhythm of Babies bring Cyndi Lauper to mind?!
In the end this writer’s stand out track is the thoughtful minimalistic and tuneful Smoke.
Listened on LS50W via 96/24 FLAC streamed from Audirvarna accessing QoBuz on Macbook .
QoBuz is a French streaming service allowing full high resolution streaming (with appropriate subscription).
QoBuz is slated to become available in USA sometime in 2018 www.qobuz.com