The tide is turning! In the words of the Jackson 5, Can You Feel It? The 1980s, like the '70's before them, have finally been forgiven. We're no longer haunted by nightmares of Paul Daniels, Shake'N' Vac, Secret Lemonade Drinkers, Wang Chung, “Ooh Gary Davies”, big hair and bigger shoulder pads but inspired by the neon dreams of New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Ghostbusters, Wargames and the mischievous glint in Beatrice Dalle's eyes. We need to keep this love affair in check though or we'll end up like Patrick Bateman convinced Genesis' Invisible Touch was 'an epic meditation on intangibility'.
Ladyhawke is 26 year-old electro addict, Pip Brown, and to be honest her music doesn't feel two decades old as it's more a valentine to the futurist manifestos of pop pioneers like Human League, Heaven 17 and A-Ha. Yes readers, she's gone Back To The Future.
This is clearly someone who knows how pop works. There are a handful of potential singles here and for two-thirds of its life, it's flying high. We've already had the charismatic debut Paris Is Burning and the wonderfully odd Dusk 'Til Dawn and there are better singles to come.
My Delirium for one raises hell atop a Harley with an unholy peroxide halo and a studded glove raised triumphantly in the air. Yes, it's as if Mr. Whiplash Smile himself, Sir William of Idol, has been reborn as a foxy Kiwi, no doubt flanked by his spiky hedgehog co-pilot Steve Stevens. It's delirious and OTT yet delivered 100% serious and deserves some sort of Purple Heart of Pop for serving on the frontline.
Another Runaway is a flashdance of ubercool tragi-disco in a teenage 'I'm a bit sad....but luckily everything's still BRILLIANT' way. It's a Weird Science hybrid of John Waites and The Buggles which is OK by me. Crazy World is another wannabe hit, all tantrum urgency, cheekbones and dry ice.
Majestic pop has, since the dawn of time, evoked extreme reactions and this album is guaranteed to annoy many with its relentless dayglo perkiness and youthful energy. Although it split the vote, Dusk 'Til Dawn did burrow its way into my melon man. “DoDo DoDo Bang !Bang! Bang! On the door, From Dusk 'Til Dawn” is brilliantly ridiculous. Its charm is enhanced by its bargain bin-tastic ' Video Nasty' homage promo. I'd imagine its inception went like this – 'What's the video budget for the 2nd single? Three pounds fifty?? Cardboard masks it is then'.
But why release Dusk 'Til Dawn when you have Back In The Van in the pocket of your 501's? It's the absolute highlight of the album, as moody, sexy and breathless as Stevie Nicks in a Wind-In-The-Willows nightie. 'You set me on fyyyyahhh'. Glorious. I'm hoping someone will remix it and sample the Copper from Withnail & I, '...GETINTHEBACKOFTHE VAN!'. If you don't do it I will. I'm already picturing my new life as Superstar DJ, a life of Cocktails, Choc Ice 'n' Chips.
The lyrics are pretty generic 'diary' pop somewhat redeemed by unexpected sparks of abstract Kiwi looniness. There's a real sense of the daydreamer here and it's one of its more endearing features. The Bagpuss style album artwork is to be applauded. A woman sat in her pants playing videogames whilst surrounded by legions of Cats is always a good idea. Bravo, others take note. Protect and nuture your strangeness my dearest it will serve you well in the future.
As a 13 tracker it's less appealing, several horrors curse this record where the reanimated phantoms of Johnny Hates Jazz and the fright wig of Spagna come scratching at your window asking for some sugar. I'm tut-tutting here at ropey B-side fodder like Manipulating Woman and Professional Suicide.
Ladyhawke's a bit of a rubbish name too let's face it. The name's from an '80's Rutger Hauer film. After scanning through Mr.Hauer's catalogue on IMDB, I'll admit it's a better name than Woman Between Wolf & Dog, The Beans Of Egypt or Naked & Lustful. Hang on, that last one would have at least guaranteed sold out gigs.
First week sales for this debut haven't been great, falling short of the magical Top 40 and Dusk 'Til Dawn bizarrely didn't even tickle the Top 75. If pop diamonds like Back Of The Van can't kick start interest I'll bet my aviators she'll join the aristocracy of Linda Perry and Cathy Dennis behind the scenes counting their gold in their mansions in the Hollywood Hills.
So not quite the benchmark of 00's pop (that's still Loose by Nelly Furtado) but it can certainly sit down the front alongside Robyn & Annie. It's always nice to welcome an Anti J-Lo too, we are not being flogged an untouchable utopia here folks. This is more about making the humdrum shine a little and where it shines brightest there is more joy and life than in a thousand 'authentic' guitar bands. You won't remember the album in 5 years time – great pop isn't intentionally designed to last, it's about 'The Moment' - but you will be dancing to some of its singles, probably whilst wearing leg warmers.
No Thriller then, but occasionally Fantastic.