❉ This vinyl box set from a leading synthpop act is a must buy for fans of the genre, writes Ange Chan.
Blancmange have always been a much-overlooked band in my humble opinion, but from listening to the albums from very start, you can hear how they deliver intelligent songs with lyrics that present the surreal in a palatable 3-minute track.
Happy Families, originally released in 1982 is a fully-formed electronic pop classic whose tracks all display how Neil Arthur’s lyrical talent shone through to deliver unforgettable tracks which have now, in 2019, stood the test of time. Blancmange’s second album, Mange Tout reached Number 8 in the UK charts in 1984 and marked a more dancefloor-friendly change of style for the duo, and it’s been expanded with 12” extended versions , B-sides, sessions and unreleased tracks. The third and final ’80s Blancmange album Believe You Me is an underrated finale, as the band announced their dissolution shortly after.
After working on their own projects and film music, they returned to great acclaim in 2011 with their fourth studio album, Blanc Burn. Semi Detached followed in 2015, the first of several new records with Neil Arthur at the helm after Blancmange’s Stephen Luscombe was forced by illness to stop touring or recording: Unfurnished Rooms (2017) and Wanderlust (2018) have both been covered favourably by We Are Cult and saw Arthur working closely with Benge (Wrangler/John Foxx & The Maths and Gazelle Twin co-producer) following their collaboration as Fader.
As Mojo magazine recently commented on Blancmange’s most recent material: ‘Music Pop Art has seldom been as good.’ I can personally testify to this having seen Blancmange in London (Under the Bridge) on their recently completed UK Tour. They delivered both old songs and new, with a freshness and energy that is rarely witnessed. They both delivered and delighted, playing tracks that weren’t the obvious choices. Living on the Ceiling made a penultimate appearance and we wrongly predicted that Don’t Tell Me would be the gig’s finale – we were so wrong! The melancholic Waves ended the superb set, much to the delight of the fans in the audience.
A must-buy for fans of the synthpop genre, The Blanc Tapes is highly recommended to both Blancmange fans now and those who were fans back in the day. Re-listening to their albums has reignited my love for songs long forgotten and enjoyed, and with the benefit of the passing of some 30-odd years, has taken on a new timeless meaning.
❉ Blancmange: ’The Blanc Tapes’ – The Limited Edition Vinyl Boxset was released on 24 May 2019 via London Records.
❉ Ange Chan is a poet and novelist and a regular contributor to We Are Cult. Her latest collection of poetry “Songs of Sorrow and Heartbreak” is available from Amazon along with