In 2014 Andy Bell, for it is he of Erasure fame, made an unexpected, and some would say brave career move when he launched his electro-acoustic cabaret show ‘Torsten The Bareback Saint’.

Before Bell started to write the next installation of his cabaret (Torsten The Beautiful Libertine) he and songwriters Barney Ashton-Bullock and Christopher Frost and producer Michael J Allison started remixing, resinging and rewriting some of their tracks and this is where Variance was born.

Five of the tracks on this record are made up by ‘remixes’ of Weston-Super-Mare, and whilst it is a good tune, as are the remixes, it seems odd to have the same track take up so much space on an album- this feels more like an EP to me.  There’s a radio edit and a couple of dancier remixes and the tune is unmistakably kitsch and very English (“Bingo and Chips”), telling the story of a couple’s brief summer dalliance in Weston, and Bells alter ego recalling the episode with a degree of melancholy.  The mOOger Remix is a cracker by the way.ANDY-BELL-803x800

It would be easy to slate this as a bit of an indulgence on the part of Bell, and perhaps it is, but then you then get four other tracks. Bingo Hall Baby tells the story of a bingo hall caller and is full of broken dreams and failed lives played out in the shabby seaside bingo hall where the punters “can win a tin of beans or a two pond chicken”. I Don’t Like and Fountain Of Youth are both fine tracks and both have a very cabaret feel to them telling little stories within stories that draw the listener in and you just can’t help but identify with the characters.

The album finishes off with a Promotional Melody and this is what it is – a mash up of the tunes from the cabaret that again feels a little odd stuck on the end.

Overall there is much to commend on Variance, the remixes of Weston are excellent and there’s something for everyone… and the other tunes are good too, I just can’t help thinking that this is a little disjointed and incoherent as an album. This said, many folk will rip this, make playlists and ignore the album’s order and it’ll be just old duffers like myself that have to hit the fast forward button on the CD remote to get to the mix I prefer.

Stuart Smith

 

You must be logged in to leave a reply.

Real Time Web Analytics