Album Review: Clare Maguire – Light After Dark (Polydor)
Stately ’80s pop? More like ludicrous, wet AOR
Obviously, it’s unfair to solely blame Maguire – although she may have co-written these songs, she’s but a cog in a whopping great machine looking to fill a mould rather than break one. Beneath the production and goat-throated warble, there’s scant personality – which, as her biggest champion, Hurts’ Theo Hutchcraft, has often vouched, she’s apparently got by the bucketload.
Where Hurts succeed in transporting nostalgic thirtysomethings back to a replica of their ridiculous teenage years, the team behind Maguire have taken the decade’s sonics – stabby almost-house piano, pompous drumbeats, sickly programmed violin – and just plonked a gratingly wannabe-adult voice atop them. In fact, Team Maguire so cravenly attempt to appeal to the sophisticated pop crowd that this less resembles an album, more a classic ’80s pop sweepstake with £1 on impersonating each proto-diva in case one sound hits the mark. FYI: no-one wins.
Opening with a minute of intense heartbeat and Maguire warbling her impressive range is clearly supposed to be the dramatic fanfare that heralds the arrival of A Voice, but unfortunately, it sounds like a witch house remix of the Casualty theme tune. For someone who’s being presented in terms of her strident physical ability, each of the deplorable 11 remaining songs is a tale of defeat. Fist-pumper ‘The Last Dance’ might fancy itself as Eurythmics, but like hell would you catch Annie Lennox singing, “I will kiss your crown when life takes me down”. ‘I Surrender’ and all its lusty glottal purrs suggest Lulu jacked-up on HRT promising to “give you all the love I can give”, while ‘You’re Electric’ fizzles limply.
At least ‘Ain’t Nobody’ has a touch of foreboding, sensual drama to it, but when you realise you’d rather be listening to the Liberty X song of the same name, clearly problems are afoot. All things considered, ludicrously morbid closer ‘This Is Not The End’ [err… – Prophecy Ed] acts like the eulogy to her own short-lived career. ‘Light After Dark’’s central failing is having a woman roughly the same age as Katy B singing songs that’d sound a bit sexless at a WI Christmas party. Perhaps Maguire can do better with the right collaborators. For now, though, she’s no better than one of Cowell’s ventriloquist dummies.
Order a copy of Clare Maguire's 'Light After Dark' from Amazon
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday
- Previous Album Review : Album Review: Bearsuit - The Phantom Forest (Fortuna Pop!)
- Next Album Review : Album Review: The Boxer Rebellion - The Cold Still (Absentee)