Album – First Light
Release Date: Friday 23 June 2017
Blanc Check Records (BCR009CD & BCR009LP)
First Light is the debut album from Fader – a new band formed by Neil Arthur (Blancmange/Near Future) and Benge, whose work includes his own solo albums, co-production with Gazelle Twin, plus he’s in two other critically acclaimed bands – Wrangler and John Foxx And The Maths.
The music was recorded and mixed at Benge’s MemeTune Studios while Arthur worked on lyrics and vocals in his home studio. The resulting album is full of powerful electronic pop songs – up-tempo, dark, with flickers of beauty in the sounds and rhythms that echo old Joy Division tunes and even bands like The Sound at their most synthesizer heavy.
Opening with the psychedelic strangeness of ‘3d Carpets’ (inspired by Hunter S Thompson’s Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas), the album launches with a salvo of exhilarating electronic rock/pop songs including ‘Check The Power’ – an OCD meltdown with fierce electro surges – and Fader’s debut single, ‘I Prefer Solitude’ (due out on 7 June) with its brilliantly insistent chorus.
From that point the record buries deeper into melancholy nostalgia; internalized, dead-of-night fears; stream-of-conscious visions of city life and evocative descriptions of lost and lonely figures who find themselves out of time and out of place. The slower tracks such as ‘Laundrette’, ‘Trip To The Coast’ and ‘Liverpool Brick’ are full of longing, with Arthur writing some of the finest lyrics of his career. ‘Laundrette’ is a particularly British spin on the solitary mood of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. The title track is a crack-of-dawn flow of scrambled epiphanies and mixed-up thoughts while ‘Way Out’ pitches a detached vocal and sense of distance (‘God I’m bored’) with waves of aggressive, noisily anthemic synths, but then builds through a beautiful keyboard line that makes misery sound oddly inspiring – even life-affirming, as feelings break through the numbness.
‘Guilt, Doubt And Fear’ is a mangled pop song, the catchy hooks snared into a red-eyed, insomniac’s voice – croaky but rich; half-spoken, a damaged croon. By comparison ‘Winter Garden’ is almost elegant in its minimalist approach, while ‘Wonderland’ is a human drone on the landscape, sending back images while Benge borrows a bit of inspiration from John Foxx in the track’s Metamatic-like icy atmospherics.
Neil Arthur is of course best known through his band Blancmange, who are also due to release a new album this September (‘Unfurnished Rooms’), following a major re-issue campaign in the summer. However, he is also working on the debut album by Near Future – a project formed with art-pop electronic artist, Bernholz.
Benge is currently recording new material with I Speak Machine, Wrangler (including material for their new Cotton Panic! show with Jane Horrocks, which is opening at the Manchester International Festival in July) and John Foxx And The Maths.
For more details about Fader please visit: facebook.com/WeAreFader