Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Review of Tom Bailey's "Science Fiction"

I posted this review a few minutes ago on the Sputnik Music website:

Review Summary: The eighties come to 2018.

A lot of 1980s music is still quite popular today. I don't know if it's simply nostalgia, or because in many ways, musically speaking, it was a period of a return to simpler and more pop-oriented songs. Regardless, here in the 2010's, many '80s bands and artists have caught the wave, and have either revitalized their careers, or have started them anew.

Tom Bailey is best known for his time in the British new wave band Thompson Twins. When that unit finally folded in the early 1990s, he and bandmate Alannah Currie moved on to form an electronic dance music duo called Babble. After releasing two albums, Babble also broke up, and Bailey then formed a dub/electronica outfit called International Observer (which is still ongoing). Strangely enough, though, Bailey never tried to make it as a solo artist. Until now.

Science Fiction is Tom Bailey's first LP under his own moniker, and it's about as solo as an album can get. He played all of the instruments himself, wrote all of the songs (except for "What Kind of World", on which Hal Ritson received a co-writer credit), and sung all of the lead vocals. He also produced the album himself. It seems that the only real help he got with this effort was the addition of some backup vocals. Talk about rugged individualism!

Nevertheless, in many ways, Science Fiction is something of a return to Bailey's eighties days. It's full of hook-laden electro-pop tracks that any fan of Thompson Twins would be likely to adore. The one surprise here is that of the LP's 10 songs, two of them have an unexpected Latin twist to them. "What Kind of World", which in many ways sounds like a synthesized Santana song, is perhaps the strongest track on the album. And another of the LP's better tracks, "If you Need Someone," also has a vague Latino tinge to it. 

The rest of the album is a bit more traditional modern new wave. Winning numbers include a mid-tempo synthpop song called "Shooting Star", and the album-closing "Come So Far", which sounds like a cross between the 1960s pop classic "Love Is Blue" and Sting's "Moon Over Bourbon Street".

I don't know why it took so long for Tom Bailey to release a solo album, but I hope that Science Fiction becomes the first of a series of them. This effort has been one of the more pleasant surprises of 2018.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars