Album Review: Unloved – Heartbreak

By Live4ever - Posted on 29 Jan 2019 at 9:13am


The career trajectory of producer David Holmes has been such that he’s associated now much more with soundtracking than his own work (he composed the scores for amongst others Ocean’s Eleven and Out Of Sight), but whilst his first two albums – This Film’s Crap Let’s Slash The Seats and Let’s Get Killed – remain essential for anyone interested in nineties DJ culture, equally any fresh project with his involvement is always worth investigation.

Just to heighten the anticipation even more, in Unloved he joins singer Jade Vincent and Keefus Ciancia, the latter being responsible for the outstanding music of the hit TV series Killing Eve, a combination which by any measure is one guaranteed to cause intrigue.

Heartbreak is Unloved’s second album and finds them mining the trio’s passionately shared influences – obsessions they list encyclopaedically as 60’s girl groups, French pop, film noir, Brigitte Fontaine, Shuggie Otis, George ‘Shadow’ Morton, Bruno Nicolai, Lee Hazlewood and Jack Nitzsche – all of which and more are conjured up into a seedily glamorous, hallucinogenic swirl.

Vincent has the voice of a weary player who can’t help but get played, angelic but always thrown back down to earth as she lilts her way through the bubble gum of opener Heartbreak, innocence a long-mourned victim as she questions her masochism with the trenchantly self-deprecating, ‘Don’t know why the f*ck I even try’. You get the picture.

But this nightmarish lustscape makes for great voyeurism, and Holmes and Ciancia are both true to their inspirations and typically inventive; the primal boom-bap rhythms of Love could soundtrack a go-go at the Peppermint Lounge, whilst Boy And Girl seems to have been prepared especially for a David Lynch audition and Bill is a cautionary tale about a cheating rat, with Vincent as Peggy Lee staring at any empty booth in some forgotten roadside bar.

As enjoyable as all this is, the fascination of a whole album of retro-kitsch might have started to wear thin but Heartbreak has some timely juxtapositions designed to maintain the listener’s curiosity to the end. As if operating some kind of time machine, Crash Boom Bang revs up the fuzz bass and in the process morphs into a twisted alt-Bond theme, while Devil’s Angels is an altogether different beast, a hymn to modernity with industrial blasts of distorted noise. Not to be outdone, weird-within-weird like some musical Fabergé egg, the inexplicably titled Fail We Shall, Sail We Must completes the zig-zags, a twisted waltz with Vincent smothered in witchy ennui, the sound of shuck and jive being rolled right over.

Amongst the emotional rubble and doe-eyed bunnies being boiled, this is a collection of songs that probably say as much about their creator’s boundless enthusiasm as it does the album’s slightly off-centre premise. Whether you still believe in romance afterwards might be another matter, but Heartbreak is still massive fun in the shadows for all those who’ve kissed and told, and more proof that few people do the spaces between normal better than David Holmes.

(Andy Peterson)

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