Friday, 11 November 2016

Naming an album

I don't know Vince Clarke but he's been a hero of mine for about a thousand years.  I don't know the exact story and wouldn't want to guess but I like to believe that while he was in Depeche Mode, Vince just wanted to play jolly tunes (see 'Just can't get enough') with just a few elements.  Wallowing in the simplicity of a square wave and a percussive brass sparkle.

I'd like to think he wanted to keep on making simple pop music with his synthesizers and so found himself paired with a slightly angry post-punk singer with an identity crisis.  He wrote 'Only You' whose genius lies in its simplicity and 'Don't go' which is the older brother of  'Just can't get enough' with its catchy intro, captivating bass line and bleeping middle eight.  The album 'Upstairs at Erics' has been the inspiration behind most of Urban Fox's early albums.

Our debut album 'Fear' was produced entirely on three synths despite a lot of our early songs being written on or heavily featuring electric guitar.  Through 'Fear 2', 'Impressions' and 'Citadel', it's fair to say the spirit of 'Upstairs at Eric's' was always present.  Over the years the music became more involved, heavier, driven, deeper, pretentious, humorous, funky, rocky and a little too involved for it's own good.  I spent the entirety of the writing of the 'Six String' album trying to write something of the level of Tears for Fears' 'Songs from the big chair'.  Just listen to the sparseness of the musical accompaniment of the intro (which is actually a stripped down verse) of the song 'Shout'...

That's what makes it effective.  Urban Fox songs sometimes have 15 tracks of strings, pads, guitars, synths, three different drum machines... it all gets muddy and clogged trying to sound dramatic.  The intro to 'Shout' is where we needed to get back to.  The musical backdrop to the song 'Look of Love' by ABC is also pitched at around the level of genius.  Orchestral pop.  How did they make that work?

Finally, one of our favourite albums of all time was Tears for Fears' debut, 'The Hurting'.  To lay themselves bare like that using such stark instrumentation and production, was brave.  For me, the drumming is the stand out ingredient on the entire album, especially on 'Start of the Breakdown'.

Could we write something very stripped, jolly, fun, poppy, jaunty, bare, stark, melody rich, hooky, simple? Yes - but probably not as well as Vince, Roland or Martin.  The new album, which has a working title of 'Dark Corners' has the lyrical content close to 'The Hurting', the musicality of 'Upstairs at Eric's' and the sensibilities of an early Urban Fox album.

More on the content soon but here are a couple of the album covers we've had mocked up whilst we finish writing songs nine and ten before recording starts.