Semi Detached

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Blancmange's journey from '80s synth pop hitmakers to a reunited concern in the 2010s had been riddled with problems, most of them due to member Stephen Luscombe's abdominal aneurysm, which at this point has sent him home. As such, Semi Detached is essentially a Neil Arthur solo album with some help from frequent collaborator David Rhodes, but more than anything, it is a very, very dark Blancmange album when compared to all the others, and quite emotionally heavy as well. Opener "The Fall" is an eight-minute trudge with Arthur simmering throughout and primal screaming by the end, while "Useless" offers "Everybody love you, as useless as you are" with plenty of venom and little mirth. Hard to believe it is all coming from the band that chuckled through its heyday with hits like "Blind Vision" and "Living on the Ceiling," but Semi Detached is sincere in its distrust, distaste, and ire, and by the time "Bloody Hell Fire" underlines it all as a dour closer, the album winds up a worthy companion for bad days or chucking it all. Check "Paddington" for a hint of the old, bubbly magic, or "I Want More" for a quirky, unexpected cover of Krautrock legends Can.

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