Release Date: May 27, 2016
Record label: Virgin EMI
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Dance-Rock
The Lexicon Of Love has been a favourite for 34 years and firmly cemented in this writer’s top 20 LPs of all time. So when I heard that Martin Fry planned to issue a follow-up, I was nervous. Thankfully, in collaboration with his original arranger Anne Dudley and some very fine musicians, Fry has managed to hook a whopper and haul it into his fishing boat.
Throughout, Fry's lyrics cast a wryly practiced eye on the travails of being a failed lover, the difficulty of making a living playing music, and the inevitable march of time. It's a melancholy journey, made even sadder by the strings that permeate everything, but it's also inspiring and always stylishly delivered. Fry and his crew of accomplices could have failed miserably trying to re-create the sound of Lexicon exactly, making it a stale nostalgic exercise that would have tarnished the original by association.
Making a sequel to a 34-year-old classic album is a mighty challenge, but Martin Fry’s ABC have pulled it off. Lexicon of Love II has many of the characteristics of its illustrious 1982 predecessor: lush orchestrations, hurtling brass and synth stabs, and top-drawer pop songwriting. Viva Love and Ten Below Zero unashamedly – “unapologetically” as Fry puts it – hark back to Poison Arrow, The Look of Love et al.
If there is an award for the Unexpected, Belated, Not-Hugely-Anticipated Sequel of the Year (and if there isn’t, there’s an idea for you, DiS editors) then the runaway favourite, Independence Day: Resurgence can suck it. It would be a stretch to say that ABC are back, given that the lineup now comprises Martin Fry alone. Nevertheless, here 'they' are with the first album bearing their moniker since 2008’s non-charting, albeit decent-enough, Traffic.
Allow an old romantic to romanticise the sort-of post-New Romantic era. We were going to change the world. We were young, stylish, confident, modern and shiny and we were going to kill off all those whiskery, weary Bob Dylans and Rolling Stones and Beach Boys and Doors in their sweat-stained checked shirts and jeans, and do away with tired “axe” riffs and red-faced punk rockers with their awful hair and bad breath.