Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
It is one of those great quirks of musical nature that tease out every so often, that when people think of the great synth-pop bands of the 80s, they either naturally gravitate towards those that have come out of Yorkshire or even from down in Essex, the richness of the those particular bands has been, and arguably will always be forever be, enshrined in popular music history, and rightly so.
Yet delve beyond the often thought and the one group that should always stand out above them is Blancmange, arguably one of the great lyrical duos of the era and further more into the 21st Century as with Neil Arthur holding down the responsibility of the band on stage and off they have contributed an abundance of incredible songs and half a dozen albums since the turn of the decade.
Delve beyond, look closely into the Unfurnished Rooms and where you might believe you find space, the floorboards and the open windows being the only evidence of life, instead what you have is full colour, nothing stripped back to the bones, it is fully equipped and everything fits in the place that it should; such is the reasoning of the lyrics, where once stood the cold and aloof of the period of the 90s, sees bands like Blancmange once more take a bow at the centre of the room.
Unfurnished Rooms comes off the back of Neil Arthur’s and Co-Producer Benge’s first outing earlier in the summer as they released First Light under the name Fader and it feels very much that the balance of the relationship is just right, whilst Stephen Luscombe will always be part of the memory, that his work with Neil will always be celebrated, Benge does offer Neil the opportunity and support to keep Blancmange very firmly in the eye of the fans.
The ten strong song album makes the most of the relationship and in tracks such as We Are The Chemicals, Wiping The Chair, Anna Dine, Gratitude and In December, the sublime feel of loneliness wanders through the cords and the lyrics like a ghost, one who holds all the secrets to the ability to see what the unfurnished could become.
A subtle and well crafted album, one of the simple truths of music that if the songs are there then give them to the audience, for the more there is too sing, the more harmony the world has to share. Nobody truly stays in Unfurnished Rooms but in the hands of Blancmange you cannot but help admire the way it has been laid out and presented.
Ian D. Hall