Blancmange

Happy Families Too...

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A duo that broke up in 1987 and re-formed in 2011, Blancmange were always synth pop's odd pair out, coming on with the whimsy of Telex and Sparks while delivering a firm dance beat like Yazoo or early Depeche Mode. Then there were the tablas that spiced up some of their best songs, songs which ranged from the up-and-angsty dancefloor favorite "Living on the Ceiling" to the wistful and warm ballad "Waves." Both of those '80s favorites are re-recorded here, as is the rest of the group's 1987 debut album, Happy Families, here delivered with a modern boom for the bass along with some other minor touches that hardcore fans will enjoy. "Waves" is arguably the best update, as vocalist Neil Arthur has enough mileage on him to deliver the passionate number with whole heart, while instrumentalist Stephen Luscombe roughs the original music a bit, making this identifiably post-Aphex Twin, post-Björk, and post-glitch. The dance numbers get some added twists while the bonus remixes, the best being from Depeche and Erasure's Vince Clarke, are a full-on celebration of the little synth pop band that could. Happy Families Too is unnecessary, admirable, or awesome depending on your viewpoint, but that third classification is certain for anyone who adored the original.

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