Unfurnished Rooms by Blancmange – Album Review
by Matt Callard
In an era of comebacks, where every dog and his dad has a nostalgia circuit to hoik around some half-forgotten fans’-only ‘classic’, does the return of Blancmange, 80s synth pop also-rans – vaguely moody, slightly poppy, occasionally arty – count as the must underwhelming of all?
No longer a duo, the band is now basically a vehicle for founding member Neil Arthur to ply his elegant synth programming over dark lyrical insights that are studded with flecks of melody and humour. Away from the strain of pop stardom or the new romantic movement they sound probably like the trio of 80s albums (Happy Families, Mange Tout, Believe You Me) always meant to sound – icy, detached, pretty, sombre.
That’s not to say Unfurnished Rooms is one note – there’s rhythm and mood, synthscapes and beats, pop melodies and discordance.
And neither is it anachronistic – ‘We Are the Chemicals’ shares some of The Horrors’ skyscraping ambition, instrumental ‘What’s The Time’ copies from Daft Punk’s loose-limbed dancefloor notebook and ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ is a fine neon-through-smoke closer, digging out rent-a-beard John Grant to tickle the ivories.
And so, the new album from Blancmange turns out to be something I never thought it could be – a record that stands up to repeated listens, grows in stature the more you listen and, remarkably, is as far removed from the stale nostalgia circuit as any ‘comeback’ album I’ve ever listed to.