It's like a Bentley arriving on a parking lot full of Renault Lagunas.
Daryl Easlea 2008
It's nearly 25 years since Corinne Drewey and Andy Connell met, and it's the 21st birthday of their UK No. 1 album, It's Better To Travel. Having been available in Japan – a country where they are revered as minor deities – for best part of a year, Beautiful Mess, the ninth Swing Out Sister album, is finally released in the UK. Sweet, time-warped; unmistakeable; with their brand of London Embankment sunrises and cocktail party sunsets, it's so very Swing Out Sister – well written, produced and played, it's like a Bentley arriving on a parking lot full of Renault Lagunas.
The usual suspects – John Barry, Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach – all are evoked here, but there is still something fresh and exciting that the group do with all these references. ''Still tripping over dreams'', Drewery sings on Something Every Day, the album's lead single: well, those dreams are still here, writ large. Time Tracks You Down is full of unmistakable soul hooks, swelling bridges and plump middle eights; Secret Love (You're Invisible) and the northern soul pastiche of I'd Be Happy has everything you'd expect from the group. And Butterfly is one of the best tracks they've ever cut.
Although hardly earth-shattering and a long way away now from their chart heyday, Swing Out Sister could still give Adele, Duffy and all the latest crop a spin in their soft top for their money. If you liked them then, you'll not be disappointed with this.