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Lene LovichLene Lovich
Shadows And Dust (Stereo Society)

 

I don't know if this makes me Mister Uncool or something, but I had no idea Lene Lovich was still in business. I had rather foolishly assumed she'd quit showbiz, after wrapping up a colourful career of wayward new wave weirdness and unexpected pop gems. And then, out of the blue, she's back on the gig circuit and there's a whole new album on release. Naturally, I'm pleased to discover that Lene is still in contention. And I'm even more happy to discover that her new album is really rather good. Wayward new wave weirdness? Unexpected pop gems? Yes, all that is here, and what's more it's delivered with a kind of gleeful delight that suggests that Lene Lovich is definitely having fun.

There's a certain noir-ish theme at work here, as if the concept behind the album is to construct the soundtrack for a particularly surreal horror movie that hasn't yet been made. Now, that might sit a little oddly with the idea that the album is all about 'delight' and 'fun', but if anyone can kick around horrorshow imagery in a witty, humourous manner - without ever venturing into the tiresome and overdone schlock zone - then it's Lene Lovich. The music, which is almost entirely assembled by Lene's long-time musical director Les Chappell, comes at you like an out of control carnival float. It's a riot of sonic colour, theatrical and cinematic, angular and punkish by turns - certainly, there doesn't seem to be any particular requirement to stick to the time-honoured rock 'n' roll instruction book. Lene herself is in fine voice, swooping and keening her way through the songs with a vigour that seems almost supernaturally youthful. In a way, this sounds more like a debut album by a new artist - it's brimming with ideas and vitality to an extent that makes many newer bands sound downright jaded.

Lene Lovich'Shape Shifter' dances around the room like an excerpt from a Brechtian opera, while 'Sanctuary' rolls tremendously along like mechanized infantry going into battle. 'Remember' could be an exerpt from the Kurt Weill songbook (and frankly knocks the Dresden Dolls' efforts in this area into a cocked hat), while 'Gothica' is a full-on melodrama, delivered as if it's a nineteeth century penny dreadful set to a suitably OTT everything-including-the-kitchen-sink arrangement. 'The Insect Eater' continues the theme with a modern-day vampire fable; a tall tale involving innocents snatched from the prosaic surroundings of central London to satisfy Dracula's desire for a snack. 'I'm dancing down the High Street now, shopping for new clothes,' sings Lene, with nimble felicity, 'I buy a pair of gothic shoes, showing off my toes.' Which, if nothing else, proves that Lene Lovich's character must be the only goth in London not wearing New Rocks.

In Lene Lovich we have an artist as divertingly maverick as a game of chance, and this is an album as charming as its arrival was unexpected.

 

Essential Links:

Lene Lovich: Website | Myspace

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  Page credits: Review, photo and construction by Uncle Nemesis.
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