July 29, 2022 Bananarama – Masquerade (Album Review)
One of the enduring female, Pop-oriented New Wave acts that originated from the illustrious heyday of the genre, Bananarama was formed in 1980, in London, England. The then trio of Sara Dallin, Siobhan Fahey, and Keren Woodward released a string of successful albums that included 1983’s Deep Sea Skiving, 1984’s self-titled, and 1986’s True Confessions. All strong albums, they also spawned now-classic hits such as “Young at Heart,” “Cruel Summer,” “Robert de Niro’s Waiting,” “Venus,” “I Heard a Rumour,” and “Love in the First Degree.”
Despite the music scene’s change of tide in the decades that followed, Bananarama was still able to come up with three albums each for the 1990s and the 2000s and one for the 2010s. Reduced to the duo of Dallin and Woodward since 1993’s Please Yourself, Bananarama – still fresh from the pre-pandemic album In Stereo of 2019 – now returns with the follow up. Titled Masquerade, Bananarama’s twelfth studio album reveals itself on Friday, July 22, 2022, via In Synk Records.
Masquerade is an eleven track endeavor nine songs of which were a collaboration between Dallin and Woodward and the British Composer/Producer Ian Masterson. It opens with the hypnotic, undulating Dance-grooved “Favourite,” which is actually a cover of a song by Dallin’s daughter known as Alice D. After the couple of equally moving and mirrorball-worthy “Stay Wild” and “Velvet Lies,” Bananarama then deliver the album’s title-track, which is another pulsating Pop-driven piece perfect for the dancefloor; it will fit onto a playlist that includes “Always” by Erasure, “The Pop Kids” by Pet Shop Boys, and “Never Say Die” by Chvrches.
Bananarama then continue their new Synthpop journey with the heartwarming pulses of “Running with the Night.” A bit mellower but still danceable, the piano-laden “Bad Love” then comes next. Afterwards, “Let’s Go Outside” takes the listener to the classic sound of the duo–easily hummable and steeped with vocal harmony. Later on, “Brand New ” and “Need a Little More” are slightly more sophisticated with their funky grooves and Sophistipop sensibilities, coming across as a blend of Sade and Duran Duran. After the cinematic, graceful allure of “Forever Young,” Dallin and Woodward finally wrap up their latest effort with the infectious and celebratory rhythm of “Waiting for the Sun to Shine.”
Amidst the ever-evolving and continually revolving music world, Bananarama remains grounded and adaptable at the same time. Always in for a good mix of their old and modern style and persona, the duo simply continue to deliver what they love best–melodic music with heartfelt lyrics and Classic Pop sensibilities. Masquerade is again full of these, and that is why Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.