Dec 31, 2021

Top ten best electronic music albums of 2021: LoneLady – Former Things

Fat Roland's Best Electronic Music Albums of 2021 presents another brilliant album:

LoneLady – Former Things (Warp)

I'm a Mancunian. Born in Manchester, raised in Manchester, still in Manchester. I'm possibly the least travelled person in the country. What this has given me is a strong identification with my city, and when the Madchester scene exploded all around me, I was a happy baggy lad indeed.

What I've connected less with is pre-rave Manchester. All the post punk stuff. And when people talk about LoneLady, they're likely to mention this more gothic past: Joy Division and crumbling mills and downtrodden guitar misery, things I've neuralysed from my memory Men In Black-style, with a sharp flash of glow-stick.

So when Julie Campbell brought the synths to the fore for Former Things, she caught my attention as never before. Opening single (There Is) No Logic was a body-popping, head-bouncing, spleen-jiving delight. The keyboards weren't just foregrounded: they were being dropped on your head from the top of multi-storey car parks. I was instantly hooked. What followed lived up to the hype, from the hesitant The Catcher to the downbeat closer Terminal Ground.

In Electronic Sound (yes, that again), I lauded the "feather-light strumming and electronic orchestral plucks" and the evocation of "Kraftwerk’s ‘Home Computer’ stricken by a blue screen" and the "feeling of doubt, of paranoia, of uncertainty, albeit threaded with memorable hooks: all the things that make for truly landmark pop music."

The unsettled nature of her previous albums, as skittery as someone walking the backstreets of East Manchester on purge night, is carried through into this album. Although this time there are touchstones of everything from Juan Atkins to Cabaret Voltaire to Bananarama. Techno punky synthpop. Punk poppy technosynth.

Look into this glow stick. Deep into this glow stick. You will give this album a spin. Repeat after me. You will give this album a spin. There, that should do it.

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