Alan Rankine

The World Begins to Look Her Age

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No one in a creative partnership with Billy Mackenzie dared to sing. Rightfully so -- how do you compete with a four octave voice capable swooping from a fluttering falsetto to a throaty howl within a few notes? Alan Rankine, having spent some time away from his partnership with Mackenzie in Associates, wrote a number of songs and decided to see what his own voice sounded like. Not wanting to continue with another duo, The World Begins to Look Her Age is a one-man affair. No one in their right mind would expect it to live up to his early work with Mackenzie, which is good because it doesn't. Buttressed by two cinematic instrumentals, the material between sticks to sophisticated acoustic pop (best left to Pale Fountains or Prefab Sprout) and a couple of songs aimed for the charts and dancefloor (best left to INXS or New Order). Instrumental opener "Elephant's Walk in Morning Glory" sounds as if Rankine ended up composing something much larger sounding than he had intended and decided to poke fun at himself with an all-too-descriptive title. On "Mission for the Don," "Last Bullet," "The Sandman," and the embarrassingly MOR "The Best in Me," Rankine's voice fits somewhere between David Sylvian and Lou Reed without being as effective as either. Somewhat surprisingly, he does have a decent voice, if not the strongest. The blistering title track is the best thing here. Running at nine minutes, it's a fast dancefloor epic with soulful female backgrounds and stinging guitars. It doesn't have the sheen, grace, or glamour of "Club Country" or "Party Fears Two," two of Rankine's hits with Mackenzie. And as with Mackenzie's continuance with the Associates, Rankine seems to be running at half power without his former bandmate.

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