'Affair Of The Heart'
Initially emerging from the London Electro-punk scene the duo known as Noblesse Oblige have evolved into a sonically pleasing entity. Still quite arty in a Pet Shop Boys kind of way, the band have a very contemporary sound that reflects the likes of Hurts and The Knife as much as it does Depeche Mode. Fresh beats and lush electronic layers provide an engaging base on which the band build with varied vocal performances.
The band's new album 'Affair Of The Heart' is no different. It is steeped in the arty pop of the 1980s but with an eye on contemporary dance floors and music charts. Thematically their last album, 'Malady', delved into occult waters, drawing heavily from the likes of Aleister Crowley and Kenneth Anger. This time the band have dropped the mysticism and neofolk influences to return to a purer electronic sound that still effectively retains a sense of experimentation.
Songs like 'Casting Shadows', 'Vagabond' and their cover of The Eagles' hit 'Hotel California' are perhaps the best example of their arty ambitions in this album. But the real highlights are songs such as 'Mata Hari', 'Runaway', 'Burn' and 'Break Your Heart' which are some of the strongest club hits the band have ever written. Especially in the case of 'Mata Hari'.
Even in terms of production this album is pretty flawless. It's crisp, dance orientated and plays up the emotional journey of the love affair that provides the crux of the album's lyrical content. Quite simply it really shows the band on their strongest form.
However, the first half of the album is by far the strongest in terms of potential club hits, while the second half gets a little more cerebral. So a little bit of moving around would probably have helped things flow better.
'Affair Of The Heart' may not have the brooding mysticism to ensnare listeners like 'Malady' had. But its intense emotional edge coupled with some of the strongest song writing the duo have yet displayed means that this is just as powerful. If the band can keep producing singles such as 'Mata Hari' and 'Runaway' then dancefloor dominance awaits.