CD Title: Hearts & Knives
Label: Blitz Club Records UK
Genre: synthpop, new wave
VISAGE ARE BACK!
Visage are a British New Wave rock band. Formed in 1978, the band became closely linked to the burgeoning New Romantic fashion movement of the early 1980s, and are best known for their hit "Fade to Grey" released in 1980. In late 1978, this trio recorded a demo which yielded the first Visage single, an aptly futuristic cover of Zager & Evans' "In the Year 2525."Adding Ultravox keyboardist Billy Currie as well as three members of Magazine -- bassist Barry Adamson, guitarist John McGeoch, and keyboardist Dave Formula -- Visage signed to Martin Rushents Genetic Records to release "Tar" in September 1979, followed a year later by their self-titled debut LP. The album yielded a major single in "Fade to Grey," an instant club classic which heralded synth pop's imminent commercial breakthrough. The follow-up, "Mind of a Toy," was a Top 20 hit. Soon to follow was 1982's The Anvil. Midge, John, Dave and Billy left in 1983. Beat Boy (1984) was to be Visage's final release, the band now consisting of Steve Strange, Rusty Egan, Steve Barnacle and Gary Barnacle. In 2013 Visage returned with the line up of Steve Strange and Steve Barnacle with new members Robin Simon (ex Ultravox Guitarist) and Lauren Duvall (on vocals).
It only took 29 years, but Steve Strange and his merry band of freaks and misfits are back. I remember a few years ago Steve was planning a Visage release, everything was in place, new look, new line up, new photo shoot where Steve covered up his face. It added an air of mystery. I was so excited that there would finally be new Visage material. Over these long and agonizing past 29 years, Strange had his loyal fans on a yo yo, as he threatened to release new material one day and then the next said there would never be new Visage material. So you can imagine the utter joy and elation I am feeling now that Visage is finally back and better than ever!
Hearts & Knives still delivers a heavy dose Steven's beloved New Romantic roots, ala David Bowie and Roxy Music, but has managed to give it all a nice and tidy contemporary spin.
To simply say that Hearts & Knives picks up where 1984's Beat Boy left off, would be doing a huge injustice to this fantastic new and unique body of work. Yes, there are parallels and comparisons to Beat Boy and past Visage albums, but Strange's Visage has matured and mutated in ways that are not so easily dismissed as "more of the same". One thing that was refreshing to see, was that Visage steered clear of yet another remake, redo or remix of their club classic "Fade To Grey". Hearts & Knives though in production for several years now, is essentially to the general public, brand new material.
"Never Enough", opens the album with a slight Beach Boys, summery feel. I know it's a rather odd comparison, but you'll hear it too when you give it a whirl. Shameless Fashion, is pure vintage Visage with a bit of an updated spin. Think early Bowie meets disco. "She's Electric" is a great example of the more contemporary direction of the "new" Visage. Swirling, bubbling synths remind one of The Human League. Hidden Sign, catapults you back to the classic rock Ziggy Stardust days, that was one of the driving inspirations of the New Romantic movement. Strange's vocals sound as fresh as ever, though less of a deepness in tone compared to the "wave voice" Visage of the 80's, they still manage to effortlessly fit nicely like a glove on his latest masterpiece. "On We Go" and "Breathe Life", takes a look at Visage's slightly softer, more balleric side, while tracks like "Dreamer I Know", "Lost In Static" and the delightfully catchy "Diaries Of A Madman", explore the more synthpop-driven and edgier side of Visage.
Steve did not forget his dance club roots, as there is no shortage of electro disco delights with tracks like "I Am Watching", which could easily be a dance floor anthem. Hearts & Knives seems to be a sort of love letter to Strange's somewhat chaotic and turbulent life. However, through the ashes of what once was, rises the phoenix of what's still to come. Visage is back, and all I can say is... It's about bloody time!
Experience Hearts & Knives with this album sampler
Check out this new exciting documentary on Visage
Buy Hearts & Knives on Amazon
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