[Release date 22.04.16]
Synth = synthetic. Unfortunately, while that was de rigueur in the 80′s, it sounds a little clichéd several decades on.
Gray Matterz, is however a reminder of a) what a good songwriter Detroit is, and b) what an even better vocalist she was, and still is. And if nothing else it’s made me revisit Hormonally Yours (1991) by Shakespear’s Sister which remains a wonderfully timeless piece of pop.
I had sort of hoped that Detroit might have matured into a more organic artist, but Grayz Matterz is heavily programmed. Ironically, ‘Digital Age’ opens the set with some promise gorgeous vocals, a great hook – a sumptuous slice of pop with a direct line of sight back to Shakespear’s Sister and some marvellously operatic backing vocals.
But things start to go downhill thereafter. ‘Turn Up The Volume On The Positive’ starts with a massive Human League style synth beat but descends into a Madonna circa Music pastiche. It would have sounded great fifteen years ago. Now, I’m not so sure it’s still relevant, although it’s impeccably delivered.
‘Drag Queen’, belongs equally on the dance floor with its Ibiza beach party beat and while ‘Home’ begins with striking echoes of the Shangri-Las and Shakespear’s Sister it too, almost instantly, gives way to another heavily beat dominated piece of pop that would surely be better suited to an artist like Katie Perry (although she’s not in the same vocal class as Detroit).
And so it goes. It’s like taking your dream date to a deserted tropical atoll, only to find Fat Boy Slim is holidaying with his mates a short distance across the water and they have the biggest PA this side of Haad Rin Beach turned up to twelve.
Sadly, it’s not until the album closes with the sublime ‘What’s The Time In Tokyo’ that the unrelenting dance beats subside. And by that time your ‘dream girl’ just isn’t in the mood. It’s frustrating. And that’s a fact.
Gray Matterz is beautifully constructed and Marcella Detroit an exceptional vocal talent. But unless you can get past those migraine-inducing dance beats, it’s not what you might call a ‘keeper’. **1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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