An accomplished achievement in mature pop, but there’s nothing groundbreaking here.
For her first album in six years, Alison Moyet says she ignored talk of target demographics and eschewed the advert jazz covers normally expected of middle-aged singers. Instead, she teamed up with producer Guy Sigsworth – a musical marriage she likens to that of her time alongside Vince Clarke in Yazoo – and created a set of dance-pop that satisfies even if it sounds as if it’s a decade old.
“Suddenly the landscape has changed,” sings Moyet on opener ‘Horizon Flame’. True, yet the icy electronics backing her wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Madonna’s 1998 album Ray Of Light. Single ‘When I Was Your Girl’ sets Moyet’s familiar androgynous and commanding voice against the fragility of a lyric which recalls a younger, naive past and an expanse of guitars, strings and drums. It’s an accomplished slab of uplifting power-pop but doesn’t exactly sound new.
The subsequent two tracks show parallels with Moyet’s synth-pop past, with mixed results. ‘Apple Kisses’ tries too hard and comes off like an attempt to make dubstep for 50-year-olds. ‘Right As Rain’ is a straight-up four-to-the-floor club track that invites an overhaul by some trendy remixer or other. It’s entertaining enough without adding anything extra to the existing catalogue of powerful female voices over squelchy dance beats. It strongly recalls Roísín Murphy’s work with Andy Cato on her 2007 LP Overpowered and that same year’s ‘It’s All True’ by Tracey Thorn (who is, incidentally, another female singer who was attempting to shake off her past as part of a successful ‘80s duo – in her case Everything But The Girl).
*** out of five stars
BY DAVID WILD
The Minutes is out now on Cooking Vinyl.