BLACK LEAD RECORDS 5th October, 2018
At the turn of the century, Sarah Nixey was the voice of Black Box Recorder and this new set shows a darkly gothic imagination and a very tight grasp of the mechanics of electro-pop that has developed into an individual vision. With a flair for the dramatic, Nixey melds aspects of chanson, synth-pop, cabaret and easy listening into something rich and rewarding. There are flavours of Kate Bush, Catherine Deneuve, Alison Goldfrapp and Barb Jungr, making for a sophisticated pop blend.
The dozen songs here are placed in a metropolitan night, one tight locale carrying songs and stories across the decades like ghosts. Atmospheric and lyrical, the songs carry lovely snatches of tune and are delivered in a breathy song-speak, a soft croon or a classic female lead style.
Burning Bridges is full-on electro and the sound of dancefloors a few decades ago. I could hear Marc Almond carrying this song of dissipation and destruction. It’s a classic sound, though rooted somewhere in the eighties, fusing very accessible pop sensibilities, dancefloor electronics and a glamorous sense of the glossy pop video. Songs like This Is England are beautifully bittersweet pictures of a black and white world of blowing scarves, scattered leaves and women with high cheekbones and long coats. Gorgeous ballads like Neon Moon are highlighted by sharply honed electro-creations like Journey.
This is only her third solo album and a fully-realised package of eidetic music and imagery. It is helped by a decision not to restrict her palette and to use both orchestral sounds and electronics, employing whatever served the song best. Ultimately, it is the voice that stays in the memory; a whispering, soaring, confiding voice after dark. One to listen to at almost any time of day but ideally where neon lights cast shimmering shadows.