Published Feb 04, 2019What to make of an album, released in the dead of winter 2019, that sounds like a collection of 1983 club bangers? What to make of a vocalist so reminiscent of Marc Almond (Soft Cell), Mark Hollis (Talk Talk) and the many non-Marc/k's who sang their hearts out to synthetic accompaniment?
Finlay Shakespeare's debut places fresh emphasis on the question of synth pop's place in modern music. Are we in the midst of an extended revival, or has the music actually gained a degree of timelessness? For the latter to be true, two things have to happen. The material has to be relevant to young listeners, while at the same time referencing the music's history.
Domestic Economy is dangerously close to ticking both boxes. Pull Finlay's vocals out and you're left with a solid collection of electronic tracks. His programming is coolly up to date, even as it alludes to the best of Yaz, Blancmange, etc.
But without questions, Finlay's voice adds a crucial, edgy dimension to the work. There's an urgency in his performances that lends weight to the tracks. If a Soft Cell comparison is fair, it's not to the "Tainted Love" period — it's to the industrial-tinged stuff that came later, and to Some Bizarre acts like Coil, Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel and others.
There may not be a ton of range in these 11 tracks, but it is no small thing that Finlay's debut is an impressively even 72-minute double-album. It's also worth noting that the entire thing was improvised during the recording process. The young artist is off to a great start. (Editions Mego)