Section 25

Retrofit

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Recorded prior to the sad passing of Larry Cassidy in early 2010, Section 25's Retrofit seems on the face of it to be both a perfect career summary and a slightly quixotic prospect, featuring the then-current version of the band revisiting and re-recording a selection of songs from its back catalog, predominantly from Always Now and From the Hip. However, given the strength of both their post-reunion albums and the accompanying live shows, it was clear that Section 25 still had a fierce, clear vision and the songs to live up to their earlier reputation, while Bethany Cassidy had clearly moved from being simply an equivalent for her late mother Jenny toward being her own unique voice. As a result, Retrofit becomes something more than a curio, instead being a new statement of purpose that also proved to be an unintentional valediction. Opening with the same one-two punch that began From the Hip, "The Process" and the still monumental "Looking from a Hilltop" (the latter featuring Bethany taking over almost all the vocals, as she does at various points throughout), and with the band creating a lusher, more fluid set of arrangements that brings out Vin Cassidy's precise drumming all the more clearly, Retrofit is, in the end, celebratory. There's a sense of revival and reinterpretation of a past that suddenly has found a clearer currency in its own right, and hearing what happens with songs like "Dirty Disco," with sonic touches as much 1996 and 2010 as 1981, is strangely thrilling. One wholly new song, "Über Hymn," is one of the most darkly orchestrated -- almost industrial -- arrangements they've created, Bethany's vocals a cool contrast, while the collection concludes with New Order's Stephen Morris remix of "Another Hilltop," a salute from one Factory Records legend to the group that might, in the end, have been the truest exponent of its overall aesthetic.

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