"The slick “Saving Me “ has an almost the Stranglers feel to it, with beeping synths in the background, loopy guitar flicks and ‘blood on our hands’ or is it ‘love in your hands’? Does it matter, great pretender? Or is it great defender? Just save me, will ya! Great tune." - Thomas Zirmay | Prog Rogue ★★★★★
Suzy Starlite sent me a kind request to review their ‘on the verge’ of imminent release debut album, which I am happy to consider.
Even though Prog Rogue essentially focuses on progressive rock genre, there is a reason why there is the ROGUE part, in that the musical horizon and the freedom to choose within its vast panorama is limitless. This 35-minute EP has 9 songs that certainly have their own cachet, a crisscrossing blend of influences from art-rock and blues to slashes of sizzling electronica.
Suzy Starlite (born Suzanne Margaret Morris) is a British musician living in Portugal with her husband and musical collaborator Simon Campbell. She is a bass player, keyboardist, singer/songwriter, blogger, podcaster, multi-media artist but a music lover, foremost. Her partner handles guitars, keyboards with equal dexterity as well as vocals and they are joined on this project by Portuguese session drummer Hugo Danin.
A thoroughly entertaining set list of clever songs with great hooks and memorable lines, I nevertheless did require to make all kinds of hearing adjustments, twirling knobs, sliding levels, input/output alterations etc…
The opener is the first single (that should not be a surprise: hit them ‘tout de suite’), the slick “Saving Me “ has an almost the Stranglers feel to it, with beeping synths in the background, loopy guitar flicks and ‘blood on our hands’ or is it ‘love in your hands’? Does it matter, great pretender? Or is it great defender? Just save me, will ya! Great tune.
The manically chugging “The Voting Machine” has a jerky rhythm that verges on spastic incontinence, a clever little electronic ditty aimed at the political manipulation that seems to plague the world of lies we live in. I was thinking Fischer Z meets Kraftwerk until Suzy snags the microphone and croons her heart out, pointing her finger at the lack of any achievement as this ‘democratic’ duty has become quite farcical, regardless of your political stance. The box with the slot.
“Blow Them All to Pieces” sounds explosively aggressive but the opposite is true, a simple acoustic ballad that is both languorous and peaceful, deliberately low key and fleeting. This could have been an old Strawbs song if one would replace Simon’s voice with Dave Cousins’, a little synth flurry only adds to the ‘from the witchwood’ mystery.
With its trippy synth intro “This Time (Is Gonna Be the Last Time)” went down sideways the first time through but the second audition had me enthralled.
I had to adapt my ears to the grim sounding and almost dead pan vocals which caught me by surprise. Very catchy, very 80s new wave, moody and raw, one can imagine a plethora of influences from David Gahan (Depeche Mode), Bernard Sumner (New Order), Stephen Mallinder (Cabaret Voltaire), even one critic rightfully chose Ian Dury (with less of a London accent).
“Everything” is a mournful hymn of electronic conflict with painful lyrics and a spectacular aria. It said the whole thing it needed to within a minute and a half. Mind you, further developing this into a 7- minute epic would be something to consider, as it sounds utterly timeless.
Greeted by an ominous robotic humming, “Shine the Light on Me” bursts into a synthy whirlpool that has a familiar appeal to it, a very 80s feel, as if the Eurythmics joined Tears for Fears, for only a second. Suzy interrupts the proceeding with another shrouded narration, before diving back into the main melody, which is a scorcher, perhaps another ‘spotlight’ single in the making here.
The minimalist thrill of “The Coat” offers Suzy’s appealing voice surfing words atop a cascade of synthesized waves, a celestial sonic pillow to rest a weary mind, headphones firmly in place. This segues into an even more misty flutter with the brief “Mother”, her vocoder led voice dancing within the wisps of ecstasy
I mentioned blues early on, the finale “A Part of Me is Broken” initially qualifies for a sweaty romp, as the growling sway of the guitar takes the stage, with only a slight hint of Crazy Horse era Neil Young axe noodling, whooshing synths giving both space and distance as if driving down a country road, footloose and fancy free. Suzy tells a grim story with a whispering and ominous lilt, a very cool transition into a dreamier realm of electronic fantasy.
I actually really enjoyed this a lot, thought I wouldn’t because I am so deep into prog but, hey, I need relief from the symphonic bombast too and just have fun. This will do fine, and looking forward to their next one which rumour has it, they are already working on.
4.5 moonbeam soups