The (Please Don't) Comeback Kids
By Aaron Hicklin
While fashion is looking over its shoulder at the tidy shapes and subdued hues of the 1940s and '50s, the music scene continues to cop its attitude from the brash, synthy '80s, from Yaz/Depeche Mode lovechild La Roux to Florence and the Machine's damned irresistible cover of 1986 club hit "You've Got the Love." And this summer's triumphant return to form for both Scissor Sisters and Kylie, both taking their cues from the '80s club scene, proves how much fruit still hangs on that tree. Sadly them apples seem far beyond the reach of two artists who should, by rights, be making cider. Sorry Howard Jones--we dug your 1984 debut, Human Lib, with your breakout hit "What Is Love?", but your latest, Ordinary Heroes (out tomorrow), feels like Andrew Lloyd Weber lite. Your lyrics were hardly Proust to begin with, but the over-production helped disguise your limitations; this "stripped down" album accentuates them. And Siobhan Fahey, did you have to reform Shakespear's Sister--minus your sister, the fabulous Marcella Detroit? Your 1989 hit, "You're History," and the follow up, "Stay" were fabulous slices of camp and theatricality that were the spiritual midwives to Lady Gaga. You were fresh and original then, as you were in Bananarama, but "Songs from the Red Room" is not the come-back album you--or we--deserve. It's muddled, and inelegant, burying the isolated standouts ("Pulsatron" and "You're Alone") in a surfeit of styles that never quite settles into a coherent whole. We want to love you--really--but can you please leave now. It's time.
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