fri 05/06/2020

CD: Tracey Thorn - Record | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Tracey Thorn - Record

CD: Tracey Thorn - Record

Thorn's pin-sharp lyrics enrich nine songs of vibrant electronic pop

The artist, possibly as viewed "on a dancefloor with some drinks inside of me"

Tracey Thorn’s solo career in the 21st century has veered between contemplative adult music and the pop dancefloor. With her latest, we’re definitely on the pop dancefloor, but, despite delicious synth-led production from Ewan Pearson, ignore the lyrics at your peril. It’s unlikely the likes of Dua Lipa or Rita Ora would start a song with the lines “Every morning of the month you push a little tablet through the foil/Cleverest of all inventions, better than a condom or a coil” as Thorn does on the pithily crafted motherhood-themed “Babies”. Her smart, sharp lyrics give these nine numbers a rich added dimension to engage with.

Like Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Record plays with listeners’ knowledge of the singer’s personal life. Thorn has, famously, been together with her Everything But The Girl partner Ben Watt for decades. The songs “Go” and “Face”, however, are both heartfelt lost love numbers, the latter about late nights looking at social media, asking, “Do you scroll through my photos just to check that I’m fine?” She’s almost certainly playing with us, as spirited artists do, but because she delivers the whole thing so plaintively, only those with hearts of stone won’t wonder just a little. In any case, alternatively, “Guitar” is a nostalgic celebration of her original meeting with Watt.

Never mind who she’s hooked up with, though, the album fizzes with her wit and intelligence and, in the eight-and-a-half minute “Sister”, featuring grooving percussion from Warpaint and backing vocals from Corinne Bailey Rae, she’s created an electro-disco corker honouring woman power. Elsewhere she proclaims her love for London on the folk-tronic “Smoke” and later concludes proceedings with the sheer joyful abandon of “Dancefloor” (“Where I want to be is on a dancefloor with some drinks inside of me”).

Apart from the almost Sinéad O'Conner-like vocals she adopts on “Go”, Thorn revels in the deeper timbres of her mature voice, giving her an authority that sits well amid synth pop styled mostly somewhere between Erasure and Pet Shop Boys. It’s a feisty, appealing album, never wallowing, showcasing its maker as an original to be treasured, although she’d undoubtedly scoff at such a suggestion.

Overleaf: Watch the video for "Queen" by Tracey Thorn

Like Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Record plays with listeners’ knowledge of the singer’s personal life


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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I think you'll find Go is not really a lost love song, more about a child growing up and moving away. And I very much doubt that Guitar is about Ben Watt. However - nice review of a great album. I've only bought one EBTG album and a few singles over the years but this one is a masterpiece. How often is it that someone reaches a career high with their 18th (?) album.

Typical, not even one slate, unlike with Kim Wilde's album. Why is she allowed to write deep lyrics, and not Kim. If she'd done 'Cyber.Nation.War' you wouldn't call that portentous. I remember their boring take on a Cole Porter classic 'Night And Day' when they were trying to break through, and her voice can also come across as drearily comatose if you're not in the right mood. Yet you drop rubbish names like Rita Orawful and Knowles, like they have a relevance or a right to be compared to actual artists. I'd still love to know how any sublime 80s artist who's lived through many decades of ploughing their own furrow actually need or deserve that-if it wasn't for the 80s, the nobody acts now that pass for artist wouldn't even be here. If only... But this isn't to get at Mrs Thorn (though I do suspect she maybe jumping on the synth-loving band wagon), it's to just wonder why certain reviewers like you have to draw rules for one, yet not adapt them for another. And did you open this with-"even if you don't like her or her music" as you did, with the "Here Come The Aliens"! I almost wanted to stop reading then. And how IS she supposed to get hits when she gets no radio play or releases in the UK? You don't say I notice. And when has Ms Thorn had her last?! You also don't say THAT I notice?!

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