Just when you thought the album was redundant due to the lack of any decent ones, along come several to blow that theory away. Filthy Dukes, Pet Shop Boys, Royksopp have proven this year, that with a bit of thought and passion you can release 14 or so well-crafted songs and call it an album. And now Cicada, with their new release Roulette have done exactly the same. It's heartwarming to be able to play these electro/dance-tinged pop songs from start to finish (beautifully sequenced, by the way) and then hit repeat. All beef, no gristle.
The strength of it lies in the songs. Even the three instrumentals are built to a song formula, so much so that the "aaaahed" vocals on Tiad give the impression of words being sung. But of course, a great album has loads of different qualities, not just the accomplished songwriting. Aaron Gilbert (3rd from right), Alex Payne (2nd from right) and Duncan Mills (far left) recruited the enigmatic GusGus singer Heidrun Anna Björnsdottir (far right) for most of the vocals. She brings light touches to the heavier tracks (Falling Rockets) and depth to the emotional tracks (One Beat Away, Tears). But Heidrun really shines on the song of the album, Love Don't Come Easy (see the widget below). This track is MAJOR and made Jake Shears twitter his love for it. Incidentally, she also provided vocals for the two stand-out tracks Out of Love and Uptown on one of the albums of 2007, the much overlooked Pleasure 2 by Pleasure.
Love Don't Come Easy - Cicada
Also on Roulette, the deep throat of Bjorn Synneby from Pacific! takes on the thumpy, bouncy Talking and Tom Smith of The Editors sounds better than ever on the avant-groove of Executive. Alex explains why these three were perfectly suited to Cicada's sound: "I’ve never been mad for raucous rock vocals in dance, or anything indie or overwrought, whereas I love soulful vocals with froideur, a little bit of melancholy.”
Roulette is the great summer holiday album. Listen to Don't Stare at the Sun (see widget below) and imagine people-watching on a sun-kissed beach or baking your bones poolside. The single, Metropolis, is a perfect pavement-cracking accompaniment while you clink bottles of pear cider and Friends is the sunset soundtrack for a view across some bay or other.
Don't Stare at the Sun - Cicada
Go buy the album here and here and see for yourselves. Stream the whole album (and buy) here at 7Digital. Two great remixes of album tracks Metropolis and Falling Rockets are available here at the lovely !Tashed. And below is the video for Metropolis - "I will scream! I will shout, shout, SHOUT!"
For Aaron, Alex and Heidrun as Cicada, this is their second album, their first eponymously titled release was just as strong and Roulette can only build on the interest it generated in 2006. For a list of the MANY remixes they've done over the years - most notable are Lorraine's I Feel It and Soft Cell's Memorabilia - go here.