sun 21/04/2019

CD: Bananarama - In Stereo | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Bananarama - In Stereo

CD: Bananarama - In Stereo

The first ladies of UK pop deliver hits and misses in a lively but uneven return

And then there were two... again. Following on from the Original Line-Up tour, Bananarama are back to the core duo of Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward for their first album in 10 years. If it is true that co-founding member Siobhan Fahey’s 1988 departure was due, in part, to the pop chops of 1987’s Stock Aitken and Waterman-produced Wow!, it might be just as well that she didn’t stick around this time. In Stereo is VERY pop.

When it works best, the album manages to fuse this tendency with the kind of grown-up disco savvy you’d expect from former SAW labelmate Kylie. The heavily previewed “Dance Music” is the most clear-cut example of this, although the higher energy pulse of the Richard X-produced “Love in Stereo” also has “future fan favourite” written all over it. 

That’s not to say Bananarama have gone all glitterballs and hotpants, however. There’s plenty here that updates the 80s blueprint with an assured continuity of voice. “Intoxicated” and “Tonight” could be cleverly re-rubbed versions of vintage-era ‘Rama, Dallin and Woodward’s voices playing to their strengths against an unabashed pop palette. Along with “Stuff Like That”, which boasts a synth bass break that is positively Proustian, these songs close the gap between the decades with a kind of musical invisible mending. 

In Stereo does lack coherence, however. Take “I’m on Fire”. The dusky, comparatively brooding verse sits very uncomfortably next to the rocket-fuelled bombast of its Eurovision-style chorus. If this sounds a difficult combination to reconcile, that's because it is. It’s like a trying to cut and shut a Saab with a clown car. That said, the main job asked of In Stereo is, presumably, not to define the epoch, but to reconnect with fans who’ve been patiently waiting for a new album. It will undoubtedly do that and, at its best, might even win them some new ones.

@jahshabby

These songs close the gap between the decades with a kind of musical invisible mending

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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