Release Date: Mar 2, 2018
Record label: Merge
Tracey Thorn, of Everything But the Girl fame, has returned with an insightful and danceable new collection of songs, created with longtime producer Ewan Pearson and a range of intriguing collaborators, including Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint. Record pulsates with synths, beats, and New Order-like guitars, maintaining an even pace throughout. Thorn's choice to record with the likes of Shura — who hails from the UK's current generation of pop singers — on "Air" adds a youthfulness and higher vocal harmony, which complements Thorn's ever-rich alto. She pushes herself lyrically as well; "Smoke" revealing a dark, orchestral-inflected lament on her family's relationship with London and the current state of the city..
Tracey Thorn remains one of the most vital voices in English pop - not necessarily a fate anyone would have bet on in the Eighties, even her early fans. In her excellent new solo album, with the droll title Record, the Everything But the Girl chanteuse tells tales of mid-life angst with the same wry wit she's had in her voice since she was a sullen Brit-punk kid. The fantastic "Sister" sets the tone - over eight pulsing minutes of feminist rage, explicitly inspired by the women's march, with Corinne Bailey Rae and Warpaint's rhythm section joining in as she chants, "I think like a girl/I fight like a girl." She sounds like a woman who woke up one morning to realize she forgot how to give a fuck anymore.
Produced by Ewan Pearson, Tracey Thorn's first album of new original material in seven years is largely mid-tempo synth-pop. Opening track "Queen" is very good, though while the nature of the song is one of an anthem, the production and delivery are restrained. Not that this doesn't work, but there's the sense it could be so much more. "Air" features lovely backing vocals from Shura, and the epic eight minutes plus breathy minor key "Sister" sees Warpaint's rhythm section and Corinne Bailey Rae guesting.