ABC - The Lexicon Of Love II - Review (under-g Best New Album)

“YOU GOT LIGHT, YOU GOT SHADE, YOU GOT BEAUTY AND BEAST/ ALL COME TOGETHER TO MAKE A MASTERPIECE”. OVER THREE DECADES ON, ABC TELL IT LIKE IT IS…


 For some, 1982’s The Lexicon Of Love represents a pinnacle of pop perfection, its literate romance lusciously produced by Trevor Horn, its nostalgic aesthetics a counterpoise to its state of the art sound. Doubters, however, struggle with Martin Fry’s showy vocal mannerisms, the brass fl ourishes, the guitar harmonics, the busy bass lines – Alan Partridge surely mimes along to Poison Arrow – and, in essence, the very extravagance that make its fans so passionate. For ABC to return to their debut, therefore, is a bold move, one whose potential failure risks tarnishing the original’s reputation as well as providing ammunition for those inclined against it.



Fortunately, The Lexicon Of Love II should both seduce devotees and send cynics scuttling away to do some reassessing, because if the original occasionally suffered from its era’s excesses, this exercises just enough contemporary austerity to make even its most grandiose gestures seem stylishly restrained. Anne Dudley’s orchestral arrangements, vital to the 1982 album’s decadence, may maintain ABC’s opulent identity, but Fry – a married man, now 30 years older, but still as lyrically dextrous and poetically romantic as ever – approaches the concept candidly.

As he states on Brighter Than The Sun, he’s here to “ask the boy that I once was/ About the man that I’ve become”. The answers are engrossing. So when Fry sings, on The Flames Of Desire, of “The spirit of romance in your smile/ Sweeping me back two thousand years/ To bathe in the waters of the Nile”, his rhapsody is perfectly matched by Dudley’s swooping string melodies. Viva Love fi nds him conceding that “It’s hell for leather on a helter skelter/ Just steel your nerves for a bright white knuckle ride”, before an ecstatic chorus gives in to the adrenalin provoked. The Love Inside The Love addresses how relationships can be maintained after that adrenalin rush has subsided, proving ABC can handle more subdued moods, the positivity of lines like “Life keeps revealing/ A deeper, deeper meaning/ Between you and me” steering just the right side of sentimentality. Yet it’s Confessions Of A Fool that ratifi es the legitimacy of what might have been an act of selfindulgence. With “All my pride crushed up in a paper cup”, Fry divulges his own follies, and as his voice fl ies amid the lavish, sparkling setting, ABC confi rm that, if this is the look of love three decades later, then we all have cause for optimism.

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