It's 17 years since [a]Johnny Marr[/a] formed [B]The Smiths[/B]. It's 22 years since [a]Bernard Sumner[/a] joined Joy Division. Here aren't the young men, frankly....
It’s 17 years since [a]Johnny Marr[/a] formed The Smiths. It’s 22 years since [a]Bernard Sumner[/a] joined Joy Division. Here aren’t the young men, frankly.
And when you remember how 1996’s ‘Raise The Pressure’ saw Electronic on the verge of turning into The Lightning Seeds with not as many good tunes, hopes aren’t too high for that all-too-easy third LP by the supergroup it was once OK to like.
Well, prepare yourself for the embarrassment of the good ol’ boys apparently attempting to keep up with the crazy postmodern mix’n’match pop zeitgeist of, erm, 1993. Yes, opening track ‘Make It Happen’ starts with scratching, wah-wah, and a we’re-still-4-real sample of Ice-T announcing, “This is not a pop album”. Nggg…
But just as Jesus Jones prepare uncomfortable manoeuvres in the graveyard of history, the wah-wah squall starts to mutate from stylised bluster into a hook-sized riff and the scratchscapes fall away behind the kind of simple but deadly pop melody we remember from Electronic‘s classic eponymous 1991 debut.
And by the time it’s finished you’re prepared to see things their way, in terms of Marr and Sumner putting more thought in and taking more risks in the way they present these tunes than you’d come to expect from two men who could quite happily rest on two decades’ worth of laurels.
Witness the thundering Zep-ish beat of ‘Haze’ that gives the song a boot up the jacksie, or the wailing harmonica on ‘Vivid’ that brings it to life in the same way it did ‘Hand In Glove’ all those years ago. As good an example as any is their treatment of Blind Faith‘s ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’. An unappetising prospect on paper, but they turn it into a beautifully misty-eyed, swoonsome thing in a much trippier, blissed-out way than the original.
There are still minor irritants, mind. Like the way half the songs seem obliged to be crammed full of technoid squiggles and scratching sounds in the background. This is DANCE MUSIC, kids! Can you feeel it?
And in keeping with dance music law, this LP is also too long, and they could lose filler such as ‘Breakdown’, ‘Late At Night’ and ‘King For A Day’ without anyone batting an eyelid.
They fare best with straighter disco pop like ‘When She’s Gone’ or the sublime title track. ‘Twisted Tenderness’ has moments that echo Smithsian acoustic melancholy as well as New Order‘s synthy soul pop, the two influences suddenly making the sense they always threatened to. Meanwhile, the album of the same name suggests Electronic, if not exactly rejuvenated, are rewired, recharged and, really quite good again.