The electronic and synthpop duo return to stellar form with their 2010 release, snagging some big names and attentions along the way. On general sale now.
With their latest album, Black Light, the London based electronic duo Groove Armada release their first full album since 2007. Comprising of a blend of smooth, synthesised electronica, house numbers and more lavishly sounding synthpop numbers that would make even the hardest 80s keytar playing, new romantics weep. Coupled with a strong supporting cast on this new release, Groove Armada’s Andy Cato and Tom Findlay are joined by the likes of Bryan Ferry, Jess Larrabee and even pop’s ugly, misunderstood big brother Will Young who actually sounds like a singer, no mean feat for the producers.
The sixth full studio album, not counting 2007’s release of limited tracks entitled GA10: 10 Year Story, Groove Armada take their loyal fan base and new listeners back to a more sleek, electronic sounding era based very firmly in the 80s. The dynamic feeling of the album pays more than a large homage to the electronic, new wave bands of the decade, most notably New Order, Gary Numan, David Bowie and of course Roxy Music who’s pioneering and sometimes controversial recording techniques and methodology behind their lyricism lend a wonderfully trans-generational quality to the album. Although primarily a synthpop-based album, it is easy to merely brand Black Light as little more than a retro foray into a misty eyed era long since gone. However, with their dynamic blend of musical talent, lyrics and collaboration with other exquisite artists, Groove Armada deliver a hauntingly eerie album that can wrestle with the giants of the genre from almost three decades ago.
Black Light kicks off with the more conventional sounding “Look me in the Eye Sister” an excellent sounding, harder edged synth rock number. Upon first hearing the pulsing guitar riffs and thundering drums combined with the droning keyboards, the listener is immediately transported back to a world the majority of the band’s fan base will not remember or indeed were not even born in. Spiralling into a tangled forest of enhanced snare drums and screeching keyboards, effects and all, “Look me in the Eye Sister” smacks of the very essence that made bands like Flock of Seagulls and Visage so very popular. This atmosphere is replicated with follow ups “Fall Silent” and “Not Forgotten”, both tracks featuring the eerily creepy musings of Andy Cato on keyboard reflect his love for the synthpop era and his traditional roots in Jazz and bass.
Progressing the album into more familiar ground, the later tracks “Shameless” and “History” see the group unite with very different vocal artists, Bryan Ferry and Will Young respectively. Ferry lends his seemingly unlimited and ageless vocals to “Shameless” a smooth sounding electronica number that once again harkens back to Ferry’s glory days of the early 1980s. The echoing resonance of the distant guitars reflects this throwback to his golden era, Groove Armada obvious fans and here providing a perfect medium and tribute to the quintessential style icon and his unfathomably cool persona.
Similarly, “History” sheds a new light on the unfathomably popular Will Young. The TV talent show winner has been less than the most widely accepted artist amongst more acquired music tastes. Thus when first approached about the prospect of his high pitched warbling appearing with more credible musicians, fans and music aficionados were less than initially enamoured. The product, contrary to popular belief, is actually a massive improvement on his career and arguably one of the many high points of the album as a whole. Having spent the previous few years in relative mediocrity, it would appear that Young has in fact been working hard on his vocal range that is more than displayed here on this track. Once again combined with a keyboard and bass much like a pounding heartbeat, “History” is a wonderful track that has striking similarities to the other 80s great “Smalltown Boy” by Bronksi Beat, not a small feat and will hopefully be just as popular. Young’s spirited performance on “Friday Night with Jonathan Ross” no doubt opened a lot of skeptics eyes and more importantly ears and it will be interesting to see where his career progresses from here.
In all, Black Light is a wonderful return to form for Groove Armada who continue to produce high quality, excellently produced and often quite thought provoking work. With their experimental electro and synth pop sound, Groove Armada will continue to impress their substantial fan base. However, with the growing trend for retroactive and throwback nostalgia continuing to dominate popular culture, the return of the hit 80s set BBC police drama Ashes to Ashes provides a great base from which to launch this latest album much akin to the success achieved by La Roux a year ago with “In for the Kill” and her self titled debut album. Therefore could it be too far a stretch of the imagination to envision the rapidly approaching summer to be dominated by florescent leg warmers, shoulder pads and large, floppy hair. Looking down the high streets, it would appear those days have never expired.
Check out Groove Armada’s official website for details on availability of the album: http://www.groovearmada.com