July 9, 2018 Tom Bailey – Science Fiction (Album Review)
Two of the luminaries of ’80s New Wave Pop scene whose vocalists ultimately embarked on their respective solo careers are A Flock of Seagulls, with Mike Score’s releasing an album under his own moniker in 2014 (Zeebratta); and Thompson Twins, whose frontman re-activated the band’s legacy in 2014 by touring with the appellation “Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey.” Now, better late than never, Bailey finally comes up with his much-awaited, first-ever solo offering – his first new music in almost 25 years.
Titled Science Fiction, Bailey’s debut full-length is slated for release on Friday, July 13, 2018, via Mikrokosmos/BFD Records. It is a set of stadium-ready Synthpop tracks that feature Bailey’s signature trademark of hook-laden, radio-friendly tunes as heard best in his former band’s now classic songs.
Science Fiction opens with the subtly ominous, hypnotically undulating pulses of the title track, whose mood and melodies hark back to the catchiness of Thompson Twins’ iconic hits “Doctor! Doctor!” and “Lay Your Hands on Me.” The soothing Pop excursion continues with “What Kind of World,” the album’s carrier single whose African beats, Latin rhythms, and Techno/Dance dalliances seamlessly connect to Bailey’s glorious beginnings. Still within dancefloor territories, the ensuing mid-tempo “Shooting Star,” however, slows down the ambience and the wishes for a bit. A further trek into Bailey’s sophisticated predisposition then comes next with the heartrending sway of “Feels like Love to Me” – something that may compel the initiated listener to revisit “Hold Me Now” and the rest of Into the Gap afterwards.
Another sparse-sounding ballad plays next – the piano-led and bass-driven “Blue,” in which Bailey’s usual velvety, low-register voice and poetic lyrics comfort the spirit and soothe the senses. Bailey then delves again into jazzy and R-n-B-flavored Sophistipop with “If You Need Someone” – time to turn the lights a bit dimmer, so that swinging bodies can move much closer to each other.
“Ship of Fools” is a different kind of beastly Pop – playful, a bit Vaudeville and theatrical, reminiscent of late-’60s The Beatles (“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”) and David Bowie (“Come and Buy My Toys”) albeit expressed in synthesizer-oriented terms. After this interesting trip back to Pop music’s half-a-decade past, Bailey then returns Science Fiction to its overall Dance Pop tendencies, with “Work All Day.”
The slightly Guitar Pop-styled “Bring Back Yesterday” is apt as the penultimate track, with its moody intro and sudden burst of angularity, as well as its infectious, sing-along choruses and melodramatic lyrical flare.
Finally, Bailey concludes Science Fiction confidently as if a proper literary novelist, with the rustic, folky, breezy, soulful, and starry-eyed heartbeats and acoustic gushes of “Come So Far” – orchestral, classy, majestic, lovely… a perfect closer that ultimately lets the stars go.
Yes, Tom Bailey is better late than never! For if not now, then when? So, all you veteran enthusiasts of not only New Wave and Synthpop music but also anything that sounds fresh yet familiar and sophisticated but frivolous, what are you waiting for? Prop up that hair and don your flamboyant garbs as you head to the record shops this Friday to grab your copy of Tom Bailey’s brilliant collection of new stories and sentiments set in sonic nuggets. Do this, in the name of love! CrypticRock gives Science Fiction 4 out of 5 stars.