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  Hearts and Knives  



Blitz Club

Release Date:


Reviewed by:
  Inspector Jason  

My love of music from the New Romantic synth-pop phase of the early 1980s encompasses a passing familiarity with the British band, Visage, by way of their most notable songs from that era, such as Fade to Grey, Visage, Mind of a Toy, and Beat Boy. A 2010 compilation disc, The Face – The Very Best of Visage, that I found at a used CD store a couple years back finds occasional rotation on my stereo, although it is a remix-heavy collection.

Hearts and Knives, the first album of new songs from Visage in 29 years, was recorded when vocalist and founding member Steve Strange reteamed with bassist Steve Barnacle, along with former Ultravox member Robin Simon and new vocalist Lauren Duvall. After approaching this new album out of a sense of duty when it was brought to my attention, I was surprised at how quickly I succumbed to its charms during my first listen.

The first two tracks, Never Enough and Shameless Fashion, are pleasing enough, but they also have a distinct "old reunion band" feel to them, and they conspicuously wear a David Bowie influence on their sleeves. She's Electric (Coming Around) kicks the album into gear with a buoyant synth-pop aesthetic that really does turn the clock back to the original Visage sound. This is the type of track that demands listening on repeat during a work commute, as I have learned from experience.

In addition to She's Electric (Coming Around), Hearts and Knives has two other remarkable deep cuts. On We Go is a coldly atmospheric tune that reminds me of Japan and of David Sylvian’s solo work. Lost in Static is another synth beauty that tends to go on repeat whenever I revisit the album.

Hearts and Knives was one of the best surprises of 2013 for me, and it is one of my favorite albums of the year. Being the antiquated sort that I am, I am fond of saying that, if I do not own an album or a movie on a disc, then I do not actually "own" it. After enjoying the promo download of this album for a while, I broke down and ordered the import CD. It’s that good.

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