Tuesday 21 January 2014

Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust

Sophie Ellis-Bextor is back but has shied away from another album of disco tinged pop in favour of a more subtle affair with elements of Eastern European flavourings scattered throughout. ‘Wanderlust’ is more Murder On The Cossack Dancefloor than anything else we might have come to expect from her and probably falls closer to her output as part of 90s indie band Theaudience than it does solo SEB.

There is still a great deal of sumptuous pop melody contained within, especially on the first half of the album, specifically on Runaway Dreamer and The Deer & the WolfUntil the Stars Collide is almost  Bond theme-lite, if Bond went back in time to when the Cold War was still a threat to all human existence. It is only the production that steers these songs away from pop into a different and sometimes more beige direction.

The latter stages of ‘Wanderlust’ is where the album revels in its Eastern European flourishes. 13 Little Dolls is an eerie, mythological, number fuelled romp. Album highlight Love Is a Camera starts life as a delicious waltz that conjures up images of a ball scene from Anna Karenina but evolves into something resembling A Complete History Of The Soviet Union As Told By A Humble Worker, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris and is all the better for that. Where these flourishes don’t exist is where the songs sometimes become forgettable and seem to fail to serve any purpose other than fleshing out the project into full album territory. 

Sophie Ellis-Bextor is lucky enough (or unlucky enough, depending on your perspective) to exist in a world where her music is seemingly only released to please herself and her fans. She hasn’t breached the UK top 20 since 2009 and rarely receives radio support here so it is easy to see why she has opted to work on a project that she holds value in and is rich in the sounds of a market where she is popular (her last album, ‘Make A Scene’ went Gold in Russia). It’s an almost pressure free environment that should suit all concerned.

Work started on ‘Wanderlust’ before SEBs appearance on Strictly Come Dancing and you would have forgiven her for shelving this album in favour of more upbeat pop numbers in order to trade on her re-emergence from the show as a nations darling (I certainly would have) but she has stuck to her guns because she clearly believes in this project and at times Wanderlust does make for an interesting listen, if not a very exciting one.

Now after all that I’m off to twirl around my bedroom as I listen to Heartbreak (Make Me A Dancer).


Gizzle's Choice:
* Runaway Dreamer
* The Deer & The Wolf
* Love Is A Camera

Listen: 'Wanderlust' is available now.

Review written by Stefan Jackson - follow him on Twitter @stefanatical