Wrangler's White Glue features new nine new tracks, recorded with the 3-D depth of analogue (the ancient synthesizers in Benge’s MemeTune Studios have never sounded so good) but there’s less geek and more funk; more Mod than Modular in the new album's tailored, minimalist design. Stephen Mallinder’s vocals are a surreal joy, smeared with effects and electronics as they change, chant and shift around the jump-cut lyrics.
The opening trio of ‘Alpha Omega’, ‘Stupid’ (Mallinder in a new mutant funk-falsetto) and ‘Clockwork’ (a nod to Kraftwerk who famously name-checked Cabaret Voltaire as ‘brothers in popular electronic music’) sets up White Glue with the crisp crack and thud of sequenced rhythms and lush synthesizers.
‘Dirty’ starts like something from Forbidden Planet, pauses for a moment and then slams into a compelling funk beat with a bristling guitar riff courtesy of Julie Campbell (LoneLady). Mallinder delivers one of the most memorable vocals of his career – venting, sliding and punching through the layers of noise with real urgency and bile.
He employs his voice-instrument to more measured effect on ‘Stop’ but it’s no less hypnotic – a feverish guilt-mantra of out-of-control consumerism: ‘Stop spending money that you don’t have/Stop buying shit that you don’t need.’ As the synths wail like sirens, you can picture Winter and Benge swaying to the beats, heads-down, lost in the propulsive, (artificial) hand-clapping groove.
The white-light-techno-rush, triggered synths and chopped-up, multi-layered vocals of ‘Real Life’– surely deserving of its own 12 inch vinyl release at some point - is followed by ‘Days’ which slowly loops in and then flicks off the safety catch with heavy bass and moody synth lines.
Mallinder offers another striking vocal which seems to self-describe his own writing methods - ‘moving pictures come in flashes.’ ‘Superset’ is a late highlight as the band coax the rhythm into life before hitting hard with a lovely, deep groove. ‘Colliding’ is the spacey Krautrock closer, a beautiful, nuanced semi-instrumental song which exits with dreamy, abstract vocoder sounds and ambient synths.
1. Alpha Omega
6. Real Life
*Bonus Cd Only Track