Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Altered Images



This pop-influenced group, fronted by sometime actress Clare Grogan, were a short-lived post punk-new wave band who only released three albums and had three top ten hits - the great singalong fun of Happy Birthday, the slightly dubby new wave pop of I Could Be Happy (best listened to in its 12" format) and the girl group-influenced but surprisingly muscular and very catchy Don't Talk To Me About Love. This latter one is very much part of the sound of 1983. 


Happy Birthday (1981)



Intro/Love And Kisses/Real Toys/Idols/Legionnaire/Faithless/Beckoning Strings/Happy Birthday/Midnight/A Day's Wait/Leave Me Alone/Insects/Outro


Their debut album, from 1981, with the exception of Happy Birthday, is a surprisingly sombre post punk offering, or maybe not so as it was produced by The Banshees' Steve Severin. The sounds on songs like Love & KissesIdols, the instrumental Legionnaire and Real Toys is relatively dour, metronomic drums, throbbing bass and post punk jangly guitars, raised only by Grogan's light, breezy voice. Were these tracks sung by a gloomy sounding male voice, they would be classic post punkers. As it is, Grogan's vocal delivery gives the album a bit of a lighter feel. So you get post punk moody minimalism topped off by a cutesy little girl voice. Faithless and the musically chunky Beckoning Strings are both tracks that sum up this sound perfectly. Clare sounds like a fourteen year-old trying to sound like Siouxsie Sioux in her bedroom. Furthermore, I always thought the band sounded really amateur on Happy Birthday, like a student group rehearsing, and they are like that throughout the album. All very incongruous but strangely intriguing, making it ok for the occasional listen, but no more than that, really. 



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