Arguably one of the UK’s most underrated vocalists, Alison Moyet has occasionally revisited her synth-pop roots since her early 00s comeback. But her eighth studio album, the minutes, is the first in her 30-year solo career to focus solely on the kind of sound she pioneered with Vince Clarke as one-half of Yazoo.
The artist also known as Alf appears to have faced quite the battle to get the follow-up to 2007’s The Turn out, claiming that she was forced to leave her previous label over her refusal to succumb to reality TV and albums of advert jazz covers.
Her steely determination, for the most part, has paid off as the minutes is by far the most inventive record she’s put her emotionally raw and rich voice to. Produced by Guy Sigsworth, many of its eleven tracks are coated in the same kind of electronic flourishes as his work with Madonna and Bjork, from the dramatic string-soaked opener “Horizon Flame” to the gothic cinematic closer “Rung By The Tide.”
But there are also a few curveballs which you would never previously have expected from an Alison Moyet record, namely the grinding dubstep wobbles which permeate the funereal Portishead-esque “A Place To Stay” and the skittering drum ‘n’ bass finale of “All Signs Of Life.”
Having previously performed in the West End production of Chicago (not to mention the Smaller stage play she wrote with comedian Dawn French) Moyet’s theatrical tendencies occasionally threaten to swamp the frothier numbers, such as the featherlight synth-pop of “Filigree” and the peppy Yazoo-ish “Love Reign Supreme.” Meanwhile, the ventures into grandiose indie-rock on lead single “When I Was Your Girl” and “Apple Kisses” feel out of place amongst all the studio trickery.
But considering Alison Moyet is still very much associated with MOR soul-pop and Great American Songbook ballads, the minutes is a surprisingly effortless return to her edgier beginnings, which suggests that as she enters her fifties, she has no intention of mellowing.