The Presets – Apocalypso

Artist: The Presets
Album: Apocalypso
Release: 2008
Genre: Synthpop

Released in 2008 as The Presets’ second album, Apocalypso is exactly what you would expect from a synthpop album.
I don’t know what it is about the style, but a grown man whining about relationships is actually quite forgivable when underpinned by this electronic squelch.

I like the Australian duo, and especially their wide range of synth-scapes and tempos, but at the same time I do feel a little disappointed by how, despite it all, it does start to sound a bit samey after a few tracks.
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of Australia!

Rating: 7/10
Reviewer: DJ Pasta (original review published in Vanitas #002)

Japan – Adolescent Sex

Artist: Japan
Album: Adolescent Sex
Release: 1978
Genre: Funk rock, glam, New Wave

Japan are instantly recognizable: a smooth baritone, Mick Karn’s fretless bass, and elegant electronic production. Elegant, intelligent pop by experimental gentlemen.
Now listen to “Adolescent Sex”. All-image glam funk, designed to adorn bedroom posters across the land. But is it any good?

Yes. This is a damn fine effort from the word go. Close your eyes, put on the opener “Transmission”, and I defy you to not imagine walking down a deserted street on the wrong side of the railway tracks, eyes on the floor, heading into a dive bar.
Richard Barberi’s subtle layers of keyboards underpin this record, as an as-yet-unrestrained Sylvian snarls his way through layers of effects.
Baby pictures, maybe, but the band are in their element throughout, with the cover of Streisand’s “Don’t Rain On My Parade” a standout.

In short: this is a record for sipping whisky to on a hot, dusty, summer’s evening as you watch disreputable characters stumble by on their sordid way.
David Sylvian hates this album now, but we respectfully disagree.

Rating: 8.5/10
Recommended Tracks: Transmission, Lovers On Main Street, Adolescent Sex, Don’t Rain On My Parade
Reviewer: DJ Catnip (original review published in Vanitas #002)

Madame Bovary – Be My Friend (In Spite Of All)

Artist: Madame Bovary
Single: Be My Friend (In Spite Of All)
Release: Unknown (1990?)
Genre: New Wave, minimal

This is a lovely rarity to discover, and one of the first tracks I heard to convince me that Danse Macabre needed more New Wave representation.
Madame Bovary are a French trio, brothers Jean-Philippe and Pascal Alzieu, and Christophe Boulet, who released this single and two albums. Other than that the Alzieu brothers later released a handful of impossible-to-find acid house singles, there is very little information about their work.

Their albums have a much more electronic and polished feel, but this single is raw new wave, through and through. Both sides have a similar sound: familiar minimal drums, scruffy pad-sound keyboards, and broken English lyrics that straddle the boundary between disaffected and disheartened.
Don’t expect to find a copy of it any time soon, though. Most copies online, if they ever surface, go for at least £40!

Rating: 9/10
Reviewer: DJ Catnip (original review published in Vanitas #001)