Tracey Thorn, of Everything But the Girl fame, has returned with an insightful and danceable new collection of songs, created with longtime producer Ewan Pearson and a range of intriguing collaborators, including Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint.
Record pulsates with synths, beats, and New Order-like guitars, maintaining an even pace throughout. Thorn's choice to record with the likes of Shura — who hails from the UK's current generation of pop singers — on "Air" adds a youthfulness and higher vocal harmony, which complements Thorn's ever-rich alto. She pushes herself lyrically as well; "Smoke" revealing a dark, orchestral-inflected lament on her family's relationship with London and the current state of the city.
A rightful centrepiece is heard in "Sister," the rhythm section's groove — provided by Lindberg and Mozgawa — perfectly supporting Thorn's lyrical threat: "Don't mess me with me, don't hurt my babies / I'll come for you, you'll find you've bitten off more than you can chew." The song grows more urgent and confident as it progresses, Corinne Bailey Rae's backing vocals complementing Lindberg and Mozgawa's relentless jamming.
Thorn frames Record's songs within her experiences as a woman and mother, allowing for an immediacy to the music, which traces her first brush with guitar music through to a simple desire to enjoy dancing on a night out. She possesses an ability to communicate the loneliness of modern relationships on the slowed down synth pop of "Face," where the lyrics detail a true sadness and desperation. Over 35 years into her career, Tracey Thorn possesses a lyrical and melodic intuition that shines. (Merge)