Colin Vearncombe will forever be preserved in pop aspic as the maker of 1987’s melancholy worldwide hit Wonderful Life – No 1 in Austria! – but he hasn’t stopped working, despite his not having breached the top 40 for 27 years. Blind Faith, his seventh album under the Black flag, is a marvellous little thing – a less temperamental, less self-regarding cousin to Scott Walker’s first four solo records. Like them, it’s steeped in European balladry, and filled with delicious arrangements – the swooping strings and jazzy shuffles of Womanly Panther are a delight. Vearncombe’s slightly frayed baritone is a perfect match to the music, steering it clear of pomposity, filling it with humanity, even when the regrets well up – “I am not the man you want me to be,” he sings on Not the Man, “Here comes the talking / Slamming doors you then have to throw open.” Pop stardom is a long way in the past for Vearncombe, but Blind Faith is an album by a man very much in control of his gifts.
Danny Elfman's score for the blockbuster sci-fi comedy Men in Black ranks among his best work, capturing the ridiculous, tongue-in-cheek thrills of the film with ease. It has the same oversized, cartoonish appeal of Elfman's work for Tim Burton, but with a less whimsical flair, which suits the action film. And even though the music perfectly suits the film, it also works as an individual entity on its own, which is what makes the record a satisfying listen.
John Lurie's so-called "non-jazz" approach is in full flower on this fascinating record. The ever-growing (nine-piece at this point) band builds layers of rhythm and melody with unique effect throughout. On "The Birds Near Her House," a serpentine melodic line weaves through a steady rhythmic bed, building to a frenetic climax. "Scary Children" is a foreboding dirge that still manages to exude true humor. Perhaps that is the most significant aspect of this music: it has real character and life. It doesn't just groove – it starts a conversation.