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Blancmange - Unfurnished Rooms

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 19 / 11 / 2017

Blancmange - Unfurnished Rooms
Label: Blanc Check Records
Format: CD


Slowed-down but enjoyable seventh studio album from seminal 80's synth pop pioneers Blancmange

"So, what's the best dog you've ever had?/List all the things you never had..." Blancmange were formed in 1979 when Neil Arthur (vocals) and Stephen Luscombe (keyboards) joined forces. After releasing their initial EP 'Irene & Mavis' and their inclusion on the infamous 'Some Bizarre' compilation (launch pad for Depeche Mode, The The and fellow Futurama performers, Soft Cell), they broke into the charts in the early 1980's with songs such as 'Living on the Ceiling', 'Waves' and the unbelievably catchy 'Blind Vision'. They released their first album 'Happy Families' in 1982 and then went on to produce two more, 'Mange Tout' (1985) and 'Believe You Me' (1986). Just after they released the third album they split, but reformed in 2011 and put out a fourth offering 'Blanc Burn' (2011). Luscombe left because of health reasons following the release of that record, and since then Arthur has continued to perform under the Blancmange name. He has released a further three studio albums and a number of compilations, including a re-recording of their debut album 'Happy Families Too'. Blancmange were born around that precious moment in time when the charts were just getting ready for the likes of the Human League, Magazine, Heaven 17, Soft Cell Depeche Mode and OMD. As well as having four Top Ten hits and eight Top 30 releases with London Records, they are now seen as being pioneers of the analogue synth movement. They also brought wondrous Indian percussion into the charts courtesy of the equally wonderful Pandit Dinesh, and have been an acknowledged influence on acts as diverse as La Roux to LCD Sound System to Hot Chip. 'Unfurnished Rooms' is tamer in sound than Blancmange's previous outings, but brings out Arthur's vocals well. The opening title track sounds very much like The Beloved back in the late 80's. A little tater into this great-sounding affair is probably the strongest track 'What's the Time?' which harkens back to Blancmange's heyday. Arthur asks some offbeat questions, some of them unanswerable such as "What's the best dog you've ever had?" I thoroughly enjoyed as well the morose-sounding 'Wiping the Chair which sounds like a stilted conversation with someone you have had a difference of opinion with. 'In December' merges drum machines and slow synths together with stunning effect. 'Gratitude' is a time jump back to original Blancmange, and the album closes with 'Don't Get Me Wrong' which is the longest track lasting a full eight minutes. All in all an enjoyable outing and one that will grace this writer's CD player many times in the future. Slower than you might expect but lovely tasting and sounding Blancmange sounding Blancmange none the less. Marvellous!

Track Listing:-
1 Unfurnished Rooms
2 We Are the Chemicals
3 Share It Out
4 What's the Time?
5 Wiping the Chair
6 Anna Dine
7 In December
8 Old Friends
9 Gratitude
10 Don't Get Me Wrong

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