Near the end of Everything But the Girl's propulsive 1999 album, Temperamental, Tracey Thorn pledged her allegiance to London nightlife, suavely announcing, I'm not going home again / Tomorrow will never come. Of course, tomorrow did come, and in a certain sense, Thorn broke her promise when she and EBTG's other half, DJ-producer Ben Watt, stopped making records together and Thorn left clubland behind to raise their three children.
The duo is still on hiatus, but now Thorn has released Out of the Woods, a collection of collaborations with underground electronica experts like Ewan Pearson (who produced seven Woods tracks) and Gabriel Andruzzi of the Rapture. The doyenne of polished English pop has also joined the MySpace generation, tirelessly promoting the album's first single, It's All True, and blogging entries about everything from her power walking playlist to her humorous encounter with Lady Sovereign. I sometimes used to feel that the record company and radio stations were in charge of it all, Thorn says. You made a record, and then they kind of took it over and determined what would happen to it. I like the fact that on my MySpace page I can tell people directly what I'm up to, what I'm thinking about, and play them new songs.
Though certain moments of Woodssuch as the pastoral, Nico-inspired Here It Comes Againseem to reflect her retreat into domesticity, Thorn hasn't lost her affinity for the dance floor, as evidenced on It's All True, a seductive throwback to '80s New York City synth-funk, complete with a trippy video in which office workers engage in stylized monochromatic choreography. Meanwhile, urban culture gets a salute on A-Z, a track about gay teenagers fleeing to the city to escape school bullies. I read an article in the paper about how common this [harassment] still is, Thorn says. It's a really big cause of teenage suicide, which is horrifying. I've always had this romantic, idealized image of London as being the place that welcomes everyone, and where you can find your life and be yourself.