Los Angeles punk crew hit a sweet spot between hedonism and poignancy on a multi-layered second album
Lexicon Of Live
They had the look you know, and here you can't see it....
Recorded in London in 1997, what saves ABC from the usual ignominious fate is Martin Fry's songwriting. Specifically the songs teleported in from a time when pop could be ironic, patently ridiculous, but still ooze soul from every pore.
'Poison Arrow' and 'The Look Of Love' are lustrous, and still sound like two of the best pop songs ever written. Probably because, despite a few 'crowd' songs, they've coated this in a sheen of high production. So it doesn't sound particularly live, but then ABC were always more about glamour than sweat and work rate.
It's not all pop perfection, though. Throughout there's a tendency to overly jazz things up, which hits its nadir on 'One Better World', and the totally forgettable bits from '97's 'Skyscraping' album, making this far from essential.
But that's besides the point. Because in an ever-greyer indie world, it's reassuring to know a showman like Fry can still earn a crust. Even if it is from an bypassed backwater of the nostalgia circuit.
10 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (2/9/2015)
Former Disney star enlists The Flaming Lips and Ariel Pink on a thrillingly weird surprise album
Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
The Cavan teenagers attack album two with abandon, largely at the expense of quality