"Blanc Burn" (Album, 2011)
It's probably a safe bet to say that the first Blancmange studio album since Believe You Me way back in 1985 was always going to play to their existing fan base and own proclivities. The title Blanc Burn, a puntastic play on the pronunceation of Lancashire town Blackburn, pretty well sums up the attitude taken by the band in regrouping to come up with another LP. Main question was would it be a respectable return or merely an ill-advised and excessive dip at the talent well.
Long standing fans will take readily to the defiantly Northern kitchen sink-ness of By the Bus Stop @ Woolies - “I'll meet you down at Circus, by t' bus stop at Woolies” and I'm Having A Coffee, which sounds like the lyrics might have been taken verbatim from a telephone conversation Neil Arthur had with Stephen Luscombe on a spectacularly lacklustre day: “I'm making a coffee, it's in the pot, the kettle is boiling, I want it so hot...”. If those make some shudder there's no denying they've lost none of their ability to write cracking pop tunes of varying shades.
The Western is the first song to deploy their characteristic Indian music elements and Don't Let These Days neatly updates their electropop sound from the 1980s into a contemporary mellow dance entry. Whilst the beautifully underplayed Radio Therapy sounds like it was written with legs crossed, sitting on the floor - a chillaxed channeling of Kraftwerk's Neon Lights. Hard to see how anyone, even the most devoted fan, could love this from start to finish, but its honesty and charm for a such a well-known band is rare and can only be admired. Mixed blessings but a respectable return nonetheless. 7/10
Rob Dyer (May 2013)