Blancmange - Commuter 23 - (Blanc Check Records)

Blancmange – Commuter 23 – (Blanc Check Records)

Blancmange are a very different proposition these days, especially if you compare them to how they were in the 1980s. It’s tempting to say the band were at their peak then, but ‘Commuter 23’ proves that was not the case, and that this is a different era and approach for a band who, under the watchful eye of Neil Arthur, get more versatile with every release. There are some really nice ambient tracks here to counter the more song-based material. Of these, ‘Poetic 13’ features the sound of sparrows, the title track is a nicely worked contemplation, while there is a reassuring peace to the clock-like regularity of ‘N.H.S.’. By total contrast ‘Red Shift (Blame Thrower)’ presents a dark opening picture, backed by wheezing machinery, and ‘Last Night (I Dreamt I Had A Job)’ lays bare some darker insecurities that match the current political climate. ‘Jack Knife’, by contrast, is more elegiac, bringing the two sides of Arthur’s outfit together. ‘Commuter 23’ shows he need not worry quite so much, especially if the music he makes is up to this quality.

4 out of 5

Reviewed by Ben Hogwood