Howie B

Mayonnaise

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Mayonnaise comes a few years after the gold rush of electronica, a period when ignoring the latest trends in music was a dangerous proposition for anyone with a reputation or a recording contract to risk losing. Howie B., instead of pursuing electronic music down yet another rabbit hole (despite the ability to produce a downright ripping garage/grime or dancehall track if he'd had the inclination), took a course few could have expected or recommended. First, he recruited a pair of vocalist/songwriters (one of whom was the frontman for Britpop also-rans Longpigs), and second, he named the resulting trio Mayonnaise. Surprisingly, the record that appeared under this desultory nickname has more emotional power than any of his other works, and it sounds drastically different than any other record of the year. Wielding the compositional devices of another period -- specifically, the mid-to-late '80s, the era of NordLeads, the Atari ST, and the Omnichord -- Howie B. produced a series of spare, downbeat, occasionally redemptive productions for the songwriting of Crispin Hunt (the former Longpig) and Dublin native Will O'Donovan. Fans of '80s synth pop and alternative will immediately find, and just as quickly enjoy, the forthright, dramatic vocal performances to rank with late-'80s juggernauts such as Human League, Alphaville, or even Simply Red. (One of the exceptions, Hunt's "Because of the Weather," is a dead-to-rights Brian Eno vocal track dragged into the early '80s.) Instead of a record with immediate impact but no shelf life, Mayonnaise pegs an earlier moment in time and welds it to songwriting that alternative fans will enjoy for years.

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