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Album Review
Liquid Love

Liquid Love
by Shy Child

Label
Liberation
Rating

Review Date
2nd March 2010
Reviewed by
Gareth Meade

Liquid Love is Shy Child’s fourth album, something you’re only likely to know if you’ve been paying close attention. More likely people will have become aware of duo Pete Cafarella and Nate Smith via 2007’s Noise Won’t Stop, a genre-obscuring attack of drums, keytar and yelping. And if that is the case, their 2010 follow-up may come as quite a surprise.

While we’re not talking about a group doing a complete 180 (there is no jazz on this album for example), the rough and ready approach of Noise Won’t Stop that enamoured the band to the NME set, is largely absent. Instead we are firmly ensconced in the 1980’s, right down to the hallucinatory affect of seeing credits rolling on Teen Wolf or Risky Business. This is music steeped in ironic (or is that cheesy?) nostalgia, such as the Fleetwood Mac sample that kicks off the opening title track.

All of that might make you consider that Passion Pit, Empire of the Sun and Hercules and Love Affair were doing this same thing two years ago at the most. And it’s true, Liquid Love is somewhat anachronistic, but when fourth track Criss Cross encapsulates your senses with its New Order hand claps, Hot Chip synth stabs and DFA scope you probably won’t care anymore. It’s the standout track and probably the least radio ready (it comes in at an epic seven minutes), which isn’t to diminish the impact of the rest of the material, but does highlight the albums strength and simultaneously its downfall.

Everything about Liquid Love radiates polish. Songs like The Beatles, Take Us Apart and Depth of Feel are so sanitised that it’s hard to imagine them as anything but nameless and faceless bits of music that appear between stations as you scan from one to the next on your car stereo. Cafarella also has a tendency to come across as a less enigmatic (which really is saying something) Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters.

As damning as that sounds, none of it should put you off if you cried tears of joy when you heard Spandau Ballet were reforming. Liquid Love is an ecstatic synth-pop album and never really tries to be anything more. And in that, despite its tendency towards neatness, it succeeds. Shy Child are most certainly playing it safe here, considering the edge that Noise Won’t Stop had, but they are having an enviable amount of fun doing it.




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