Tracey Thorn - Love and its Opposite - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tracey Thorn - Love and its Opposite

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2010-05-17

Tracey Thorn's lachrymose, sultry vocals were always the most compelling element in Everything but the Girl. So it's very pleasing that when 'Oh, the Divorces!, the opening song on her third solo record (with EBTG cohort Ben Watt at the musical helm), starts up, her voice, always sounding as if Thorn is biting back tears, is right to the fore.

The song itself is a thing of hair-raising brilliance, thanks to its controlled drama and Thorn's scalpel-sharp, blackly witty deconstructions of the crumbled relationships of those close to her. As she sings "Oh, I know we shouldn't take sides/ but that one was his fault/ this one was her fault/ no one gets off without paying the ride" it's like having a female Morrissey or Paul Heaton walk among us, as bitter and cynical as she is wise and compassionate.

The grown-up sentiment of 'Oh, the Divorces!' continues throughout Love and its Opposite. The Beautiful South is the closest reference point here. The bittersweet examinations of malfunctioning adult relationships Thorn delivers on 'Long White Dress' and 'You are a Lover' are miles away from the teen dramatics of most love songs. Musically, the album recalls the later solo work of Alison Moyet: unshowy acoustic guitar and strings highlight Thorn's undeniably strong vocals and expert phrasing.

However, some songs are just a little too tasteful and a little too plodding. There's also a serious lack of incident on songs such as 'Kentish Town' and 'Late in the Afternoon'. As was always the danger with EBTG, songs like 'Hormones' and 'Singles Bar', while studded with lyrical gems, fade into the background when they should tug at the heartstrings. When Thorn and Watt change gear, things pick up. Forthcoming single 'Why Does the Wind' has a sleek, stylised 80s feel, while Thorn's controlled, cool vocals recall her contribution to Massive Attack's classics 'Protection' and 'Better Things'.

A few more moments like this and 'Oh, the Divorces!' would have seen Love and its Opposite secure a place as the album to reach for when one wants to luxuriate in some worldly-wise melancholia. Instead, it's a decent, solid work which has enough great moments to remind you what a talent Thorn occasionally is.

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