REVIEW: Gary Flanagan – “Future Fashion”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Chain Border

Future Fashion"This disc is a little present for all the eighties children out there," claims Canada's Gary Flanagan, and he delivers what he promises. The contradictorily titled Future Fashion is a virtual throwback to the new wave/dance trips of yesteryear, a synthpop groove down memory lane that sounds like a time capsule of the '80s has been unearthed and reinterpreted. By doing "sincere, '80s flavoured new wave on flea market synthesizers," Gary Flanagan has resurrected all of your favorites, compiled into one happy-go-lucky tubular homage. They're all there if you listen closely: New Order, Erasure/Yaz, Human League, M, Gary Numan, Herbie Hancock; the hit parade is en masse on this eclectic and nostalgic disc, which will have one thinking he is listening to an actual vintage album from the 'rad eighties.

Flanagan is not out to reinvent the wheel, however. His approach is tasteful, stripped and hardly overbearing. Even his laissez-faire lyrics are for light connoisseurs, which primarily talk about nothing heavier than dressing en vogue, cruising around and partying the livelong weekend to the beat of "retro-electro." His vampiric vocals may set one back a tad, but they're an afterthought, save for the remixes at the end of the disc, where he redeems them.

Nightclub is a simple-minded dance track ala Yaz that is self-explained within its chorus: "This is the nightclub, and these are all the people." Plainly stated, and the motif continues throughout the disc. We Have the Dance Floor to Ourselves features frolicking twitters that are at home in the eighties, but also seem tailor-made for a Final Fantasy score as well. Dancing to a Modern Beat is farcical in title, yet the song is appealing with its smooth synth syncopation accenting the foot-tapping beat. Summertime is reminiscent of ABC's The Book of Love with its smartly orchestrated sensual chorus, while French in Action will call to mind Depeche Mode's Told You So with its lowbrow synth march which stomps into a seriously infectious groove.

Despite Our Worries is bubblegum dance pop at its best, a wayward track that seems to be sniffing around for a spot on the John Hughes movie that never was. All We Are seems sappy in nature, but the magic of it is that it makes one recall what mall he/she might've been standing in back in the day trying on designer clothes with something sounding like it overhead. Like the rest of the disc, this has a gnarly designer feel to it, a Jordache pastiche that constricts, but in the right places it flaunts its curvaceous ass unashamedly. Every Friday Night is self-explanatory; with its Erasure stamp all over it, this journey from bedroom to "darkened club" where "boys and girls will meet" is innocuous and celebratory, calling to mind first loves sprung amidst the dance floor. Flanagan waxes repeatedly, indicating he is stuck in the eighties and having a blast where he's at.

The standout single, Metro Boulot Dodo is a sassy strutter sung in French that is even better remixed at the album's end; a wonderful pelvis grinder that will have people seeking their favorite dirty dancers to simulate sexual ecstasy to. The F/R Action Mix seems pleasingly in line with today's techno scene, thus Flanagan's stake to a future fashion is at last realized. In a way, the retro songs preceding the remix serve as a catharsis to his fully implemented sound at the end. Even his vocals sound less ominous on this remix, as well as the Nightclub (Simulator Mix).

Those who view the eighties as an embarrassment we've naturally overcome, this isn't for you. It's for the rest of us. Those who look back fondly and wish New Order was putting out albums in quicker increments, those who masturbated to Debbie Harry or David Hasselhoff, those who nodded whimsically in time to M and repeated along like mechanical loons, "pop pop pop musik..." Talk about.

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Contact Information:
Post: Cohaagen Music, PO Box 28293, Oakland, CA, 94604, USA

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