Happy Fam­i­lies (Deluxe Edi­tion)

Mojo (UK) - - Filter Albums -

Thirty-five years late, re­spect due to the most un­der­rated ’80s synth duo. Fall­ing be­tween the stools of pop fun and brood­ing elec­tro-ex­per­i­men­tal­ism meant that – hit sin­gles aside – Neil Arthur and Stephen Lus­combe have been de­nied post-facto synth maven sta­tus. Yet Ed­sel’s com­pre­hen­sive 3-CD muster of 1982’s Happy Fam­i­lies and as­so­ci­ated tracks (Mange Tout, from ’84 and Be­lieve You Me, from ’85 are also avail­able) makes a strong case, with the Cabaret Voltaire cen­tipede funk of Feel Me and Scott Walker sui­cide chan­son of Waves and Cruel the dark­ling yang to the tabla-driven Liv­ing On The Ceil­ing’s sur­re­al­ist pop yin. Demos on Disc 2 of Busi­ness Steps and Black Bell plus the orig­i­nal Sad Day from Stevo’s epochal Some Biz­zare Al­bum comp un­der­line the pair’s cred cre­den­tials, hark­ing back to the man­gled bleak­ness of their pre-fame Irene & Mavis EP, a post-pop vibe that Arthur has revived in re­cent Blanc­mange re­leases. Still a ter­ri­ble name, though. Danny Ec­cle­ston

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