Release Date: Mar 23, 2015
Record label: Cherry Red
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Synth Pop
Blancmange's journey from '80s synth pop hitmakers to a reunited concern in the 2010s had been riddled with problems, most of them due to member Stephen Luscombe's abdominal aneurysm, which at this point has sent him home. As such, Semi Detached is essentially a Neil Arthur solo album with some help from frequent collaborator David Rhodes, but more than anything, it is a very, very dark Blancmange album when compared to all the others, and quite emotionally heavy as well. Opener "The Fall" is an eight-minute trudge with Arthur simmering throughout and primal screaming by the end, while "Useless" offers "Everybody love you, as useless as you are" with plenty of venom and little mirth.
In March 2011, another 1980s synth-pop band re-appeared some 25 years after their last album, joining the increasing number of acts that had seemingly jacked it all in only to pop up again. Whilst that isn’t entirely true of electronic duo Blancmange, with solo projects and TV music compositions filling the void, nothing really gained sufficient exposure during this period to keep their presence in general awareness, Neil Arthur’s solo album Suitcase from 1994 summing things up with its almost immediate disappearance after production issues. The comeback album – Blanc Burn – was a “solid collection of songs” without being standout, but then at the time of their heyday, Blancmange were seen by many as merely also-rans, their slightly aloof style and sound perhaps scaring off serious aficionados.
Representing something of a debut – this may be the band’s fifth album, but it’s actually the first without input from Stephen Luscombe – Semi Detached is a darker, icier project than any Blancmange have previously served up. A long distance from their frothier 80s form – which saw them score 10 UK singles chart entries and three UK hit albums – it’s a 10-song set that shows Neil Arthur is more than capable of keeping this band on our radar for some time yet. Maintaining just enough of the quirky humour that characterised the band’s heyday, Arthur’s distinctive, dark-as-night vocals overlay a mix of juddering dance beats and lighter synth melodies.