What does it sound like?:
Following ACR’s time at Factory, after a flop album and a compilation on A&M, they had built their own studio. Two albums followed on New Order manager’s Rob’s Records, both heavy on the electronics, both low on sales. Why, when you have one of the best drummers in Donald Johnson in the band, would you use programmed beats?
It was 12 years from Change The Station to Mind Made Up, which was much better, but ACR’s stock was so low it was initially only released on a Frech dance label. Three years later a solo album by bassist/frontman Jez Kerr, to little notice.
For a decade, nothing, and then… Mute reissued their back catalogue, a 40th anniversary victory lap turned into a joyous two-year tour and, now, their first new album for a dozen years.
Opener Friends Around Us was released as a AA-side single for Love Record Store Day, starts as woozy bass, berimbau and sax, then switches half-way to a drum and bass driven Lou Reed-style molologue.
Half the album – Bouncy Bouncy, Yo Yo Gi, Supafreak, Family, What’s Wrong, are trademark ACR funk. Added to the mix are cartoon boings, Mike Joyce, Denise Johnson duetting with a vocoder to “Free your mind, feel the groove”, squelchy proto-Acid keyboards, and dreamy spoken-word samples (including Gemma from Sink Ya Teeth popping up in one channel to say “I suddenly feel aroused”).
Berlin is a lovely effortless bass-driven pop duet with Denise Johnson, the sort of thing New Order haven’t been able to manage for decades.
Always In Love is a proper love song, ACR’s best since 1989’s The Big E, celebrating the joy of middle-aged companionship. A strong melody I remember them playing on last December’s tour.
Get A Grip features Maria Uzor from Sink Ya Teeth on lead vocals, urging us to think for ourselves and follow our own path.
Album closer Taxi Guy is a new contender for live encore Si Firmi O Grido – all sax, whistle, percussion, rattling snare, cowbell and squelchy acid-synth bass.
What does it all *mean*?
After decades of disregard for the past, ACR have managed to simultaneously push their sound foward and embrace their history. They sound like they are having fun.
This is bar far their best release since their heyday.
Goes well with…
Post-punk, funk, Acid House, samba.
Friday 25th September 2020
Might suit people who like…
New Order, LCD Sound System, Sink Ya Teeth