Black Light, Groove Armanda’s first studio album in three years, is so potent and so fresh it sounds like it could easily have been made by another band. Darker, more reflective and involving than their previous work, they have given the finger to their trademark boisterous funk-inflected anthems and embraced something altogether more subtle, using pitch black synths and reflective, resonating lyrics as they draw on everything from new-wave to electro rock to create an album which will be regarded as a genre classic in years to come.
This transformation may come as no surprise to long-time fans; the electro duo has performed several volte-faces during their twelve-year careers. They rode the chill-out wave in the late 90’s with “At the River”, launched big-beat with their stormers “I See You Baby” and “Superstylin”, and closed the decade with the glorious electro-pop of “Song 4 Mutya”. But it is the sheer ambition and scope of this record makes it their most impressive and stylish work of their careers to date.
As the album progress, they lead the listener through an exploration of the potential of the Roland TR-77 sampler; the crunching electro of “Cards To Your Heart” is reminiscent of Talking Heads, while the haunting disco of “History” draws on Imagine’s classic 1981 single “Illusion”. Meanwhile, “Shameless” lets 80’s crooner Bryan Ferry to roll back the years and add his silky vocals to this seductive ballad, while “Warsaw” is post-punk at its shiniest, the product of a collaboration with Nick Littlemore, one half of Empire of the Sun.
But all of these tracks, and indeed the whole album, revolves around the melancholic, burnished vocals of the hitherto unknown singer SaintSaviour. She features on the album’s first single, “I Won’t Kneel”, a sombre reflection on relationship compromise, and “Paper Romance”, an exquisite new-wave anthem reminiscent of Bloc Party at their melancholic best.
Review: Peter Carroll