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Claudia Brucken Returns with “The Lost Are Found”

There (there) (2012)

The ice-maiden of the 80s European synth-pop scene, Propaganda and Act frontwoman Claudia Brucken returns to her solo career after a 21-year-absence with The Lost Are Found, a collection of songs self-described as sad but not sad enough to make you want to slit your wrists.

Of course, she hasn’t exactly been missing in action since 1991’s Love: And A Million Other Things, with guest appearances on records by German trance duo Blank & Jones and Erasure’s Andy Bell and her Onetwo side project with OMD’s Paul Humphreys, not to mention last year’s retrospective. But with this being her most high-profile release in over two decades, it’s strange that she’s opted to focus her majestic noirish vocals on other artists’ material.

In saying that, there’s little amongst the album’s 11 tracks that will be instantly familiar. A deadpan rendition of Julee Cruise number “The Mysteries Of Love,” possibly even more haunting than the David Lynch-penned original, will be familiar to those who have watched Blue Velvet, while David Bowie’s first UK Top 20 hit of the 20th Century, “Everyone Says Hi,” would perhaps ring a bell if not for its cheap synth-rock makeover here.

But in keeping with Claudia Brucken’s low-key persona, most of the covers are relatively obscure. So instead of any of The Bee Gees’ iconic 70s disco hits, we get a brooding acoustic take on Horizontal album track “And The Sun Will Shine.” And instead of one of ELO’s many prog-pop gems, we get a chamber pop reworking of Bond theme-esque B-side “One Summer Dream.”

It’s all done in the best possible taste, but it’s difficult to fathom what exactly the point of The Lost Are Found is. There are the occasional subtle tinkerings, such as the addition of a flugelhorn on the kitchen-sink melodrama of Dubstar’s “The Day I See You Again,” and French accordion on The Lilac Time’s bedsit indie-pop of “The Road To Happiness.”

But Brucken’s versions of Norwegian avant-garde jazz vocalist Stina Nordenstam’s “Memories of A Colour” and “Crime” are near identical to the originals, as are The Band’s “Whispering Pines” and The Pet Shop Boys’ “Kings Cross,” the latter of which was also originally produced by Brucken’s cohort, Stephen Hague.

The Lost Are Found, therefore, doesn’t exactly justify the lengthy wait, and while at the age of 48, Claudia Brucken still sounds as brilliantly melancholic as ever, her talents are wasted on such a perfunctory, if admirably esoteric, selection of songs.

2.5 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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