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Out Cold — Invasion of Love (2013)

 Out Cold — Invasion of Love (2013)

GBR Flag             Out Cold — Invasion of Love
λ♠   Abundant in experimentation and overall pop accessibility...
Location: Bolton, England, UK
Album release: 2 September 2013
Record Label: Heavenly
Duration:     55:14
01 All I Want     4:51
02 Murder Black Corvette     4:09
03 Fingers Through the Glass     6:21
04 Shoulder to Shoulder     4:09
05 Sorrow     5:57
06 Progress     5:21
07 Synchronised     5:41
08 Invasion of Love     4:09    
09 Lovin' Arms     5:54
10 My Cruel Heart     4:34
11 In and Out     4:08
2013 Heavenly Recordings
λ♠   Simon Aldred has always been an incurable romantic with a rich and cinematic sound and vision, but his new solo project Out Cold presents another side to the man — more intimate, playful and honest, and frankly, more romantic.
λ♠   The sound of his superb new album Invasion Of Love, recorded with Ash Workman (Metronomy / NZCA Lines) is also a breakthrough for Aldred. The 11 tracks tap both influences born primarily from sixties Motown, seventies Philadelphia and eighties New York and London, from blue-eyed soul to electronic-pop produced by analogue synths and drum machines, with guitar stitched into the seductively silken mood. Aldred’s typically distinguished baritone has also found a more relaxed and lighter mood, to suit the material.
λ♠   The origins of the album formed after the Bolton-born Aldred and his band put together the second Cherry Ghost album, 2010’s Beneath This Burning Shoreline and finished touring the record. Aldred knew it was time again to think about a new record, “but the pattern of strumming a guitar felt really flat, I didn’t want to make another miserable Northern record! The last album, I was plucking quotes from Chekhov and film noir, so I wanted to give myself a little break. I could have easily made an acoustic troubadour-style album, and I had half that written, but it shouldn’t be that easy.”
λ♠   Given Aldred has always listened to soul music — “rather than country, which people associate with me” — and has enjoyed many a contemporary synth-pop / chillwave record (for example Twin Shadow and Destroyer), a new sound wasn’t long in forming. “It still needed to be appropriate to me, but it had to be something unexpected, something that pushed me, that kept me light on my feet,” he says. “So I began learning how to use these weird old analogue machines, but with the view to keep writing good songs.”
λ♠   It means Aldred hasn’t surrendered the melodic beauty of his previous work, though there is less of a melancholic sensibility to Invasion Of Love, and for a good reason. “I used to write with a real yearning and darkness but this is the first album where I’ve been more hands on in terms of real, tangible emotion, about love and relationships. “Invasion” has a negative connotation, but the album is mostly about embracing relationships and love, with a longing that’s now tinged with reality, of being gay and singing from that perspective.”
λ♠   There had been signs, such as “Kissing Strangers” where the lyric and the promo video suggested a man with a secret. Though Aldred was out to his friends, he says he was a late starter, and he hasn’t before written a lyric like, “He turns to greet me with a kiss” (from the slow, sultry “Fingers Through The Glass”) until now. “Growing up working class in a northern satellite town, around the usual Alpha males, you’d generally avoid talking about it,” he explains. “That mood definitely affected how I used to write. All I’ve done is to embrace my reality.”
λ♠   His lyrics also now have a new-found honesty. Take the gorgeous “Sorrow”, which Aldred reckons has hallmarks of Bronski Beat’s eighties classic “Smalltown Boy”, “two people falling in love, trying to keep it secret, and eloping from that smalltown mentality.” There are direct love songs such as “All I Want” and “Synchronised” that bookend the album with two of its biggest arrangements and more than a suggestion of disco mirrorballs overhead, though “Syncronised” has more than a touch of yearning to it (“used to be we could dance toe to toe, hypnotised / can’t you see, it could be paradise, you and I synchronised”).
λ♠   But Invasion Of Love is more than just about the ups and downs of romance, from “Shoulder To Shoulder” (”making something of oneself, and becoming better than what you thought you’d be” says Aldred) to “Murder Black Corvette” (“living my life on the high wire is taking its toll / deep in my heart, there’s a wildfire taking control”). Invasion Of Love is grabbing hold of life’s possibilities and opportunities and moving onwards and upwards.
λ♠   “With influences ranging from Motown to ‘80s synth-pop and contemporary chillwave, Aldred lays bear his emotions in a trembling falsetto over a clutch of caramel-sweet melodies. Think Metronomy, Junior Boys and a (much) chirpier John Grant.”
— MOJO   ★★★★☆
λ♠   “An 11-track work of electronic wonder, replete with ‘80s syndrums and bubbling synths. Recalling Marvin Gaye’s swansong 82 album Midnight Love, Aldred is vocally convincing in his newfound role as a soul crooner.” — Q   ★★★★☆
λ♠   “A glistening series of electro-pop songs that borrow from house, Philly soul and beyond. The mood is celebratory, basking in the warmth of bubbling synths, fizzy rhythms and dance beats.” — UNCUT — 7/10
λ♠   “Blue-eyed soul with a lush analogue electronics in the production and great melodies & songs...It’s a lovely album without an ounce of cynicism in its 59 minutes.” — Ewan Pearson
by Christopher Monk | 27 August 2013 | Score: ★★★★☆
λ♠   Towards the tail-end of the noughties, Bolton-born Simon Aldred released two albums as Cherry Ghost. Despite a Later… with Jools Holland appearance, a short-lived placing in the Top 10 of the album charts and a surprise win at the Ivor Novello Awards, Cherry Ghost’s commercial momentum spluttered to a halt somewhere in the vicinity of I Am Kloot and other indie-rock also-rans.
λ♠   Invasion Of Love is Aldred’s third full-length, and it’s a striking departure from what came before it. Aldred has abandoned the formalist indie-rock of its predecessors and has hooked up with Metronomy engineer Ash Workman to produce 11 tracks of electro-pop-soul. Aldred explains: “The pattern of strumming a guitar felt really flat, I didn’t want to make another miserable northern record. I could have easily made an acoustic troubadour-style album, and I had half of that written, but it shouldn’t be that easy.”
λ♠   Such is the seismic nature of Aldred’s musical shift that he’s chosen not to release it under the Cherry Ghost banner but has instead created a whole new name for its release: Out Cold. The new name isn’t just an exercise in slate-clearing: it’s also likely to be a reference to Aldred’s own coming-out that took place last year. And, while his writing for Cherry Ghost skewed towards decidedly grown-up melancholia, Invasion Of Love finds Aldred writing consistently about sex and desire; not for nothing did the album’s taster track All I Want come accompanied by a video populated by naked models. Aldred says: “The album is mostly about embracing relationships and love, with a longing that’s now tinged with reality, of being gay and singing from that perspective.”
λ♠   Aldred hasn’t lost his gift for metaphorical, allusive writing, but now his words tend to evoke the most fundamental human desires and emotions. On Murder Black Corvette he describes “a wildfire that’s taken control” of his heart; on Finger Through The Glass he pleads submission (“Hold me in the half light / Kiss me on the kerb / Hang me out to dry”), while the chorus of Synchronised is, frankly, a come-on: “Used to be we could dance toe to toe, hypnotised / Can’t you see, it could be paradise, you and I synchronised…”
λ♠   Cynics might consider Aldred’s musical metamorphosis as an act of opportunism. Cherry Ghost’s stock-in-trade was the type of common-and-garden indie rock that’s currently struggling to gain airplay; in contrast, Out Cold’s sound — a glistening amalgam of electropop, chillwave and R&B — couldn’t be more modish.
λ♠   Fortunately, any cynicism quickly subsides in the face of Invasion Of Love. To complement his new sound, Aldred has not only bolstered his songwriting with more hooks, he’s also altered his singing voice — what was once a serious and deep thing is now higher, lighter and more versatile. The results are a consistently listenable, melodic and really rather sexy record that deserves attention even from those who were immune to Cherry Ghost’s charms.
λ♠   Opener All I Want is a masterclass in slow-burning; Finger Through The Glass is a sultry slow jam; Murder Black Corvette moves through its multiple hooks with great elegance; My Cruel Heart is so sweet and lovely it could have come from the hand of Curtis Mayfield, while Sorrow is an infectious 21st-century update of Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy.
λ♠   The past 12 months have seen the likes of How To Dress Well, Autre Ne Veut and now Out Cold offer a fresh take on ‘plastic soul’ (the phrase coined in the ’60s to dismiss white people’s appropriation of soul music). By virtue of being the product of a 30-something man from Lancashire, the music of Out Cold is likely to be considerably less feted than the music made by a 20-something from Brooklyn. Which is a shame because, in terms of songwriting quality alone, Invasion Of Love knocks spots off the competition. Highly recommended. (http://www.musicomh.com/)
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Label: Heavenly Emporium, Heavenly Recordings, 219-221 Portobello Road, London W11 1LU

Out Cold — Invasion of Love (2013)



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