I only got the new John Foxx & the Maths album last week (in preparation for going to see them play here in Brighton).
I just wanted to say that my favourite track by a mile on 'The Shape of Things' is TIDES:
A fastidious 3 minutes long, it bustles in with a perky electrobeat and has the same bouncy little analogue sequence repeating the entire way through from start to finish... over which John sings one of his unabashedly romantic psychedelic-vocoderized-harmony-Beatles pop songs. I love it! It's so simple, has its heart on its sleeve and bounds along like an electronic puppy - no tweeness, no irony, just John in heartwarmingly sincere form - a good tune, a toe-tapping beat, Benge tweaking the timbre of the repeating sequence so it never gets dull...
I wish I could say I enjoyed all the rest of the tracks on the album that much :p But I don't.
Most of them are either too long (ponderous pop songs with too many repeats) or too short (interesting instrumental morsels that fade out before going anywhere). Most of the drum beats in the songs are just a bit pedestrian, no zest, just don't make me want to dance. And strangely, for all its fetishisation of a very particular and restricted palette of vintage analogue sounds, I don't actually think the album is recorded/mixed/mastered all that well - it's very much just all slapped down onto very transparent digital, so I find it rather flat, there's no sizzle and crunch as it overloads tape like you get on Metamatic... sounds a bit sterile to me... I think more things needed to be louder, to be messier - the songs based around repeating Moog sequences should've seen John fighting harder with the sequencer to see who was boss...
I also think some of John's "sing a cod-Ballardian lyric in a shaken voice" stuff is teetering on the brink of risible... the opening one about his "rear view mirror" being a case in point. What next?
"Oh, my ironing board!"
"I switched on... my hair dryer"
"Setting the timer... on my Goblin teas maid" ...
But anyways, I don't really mind about that, cos I love TIDES so much, it's worth the price of the album