The eighth studio album from Blackpool's Section 25 lives up to our expectations. Long time Section 25 champion Stuart Ralston has been mulling over the new album for a month now and finally delivers his verdict.
Formed back in 1978, Section 25 deliver their stunning eighth long player and it sounds as fresh, vibrant and vital as ever. Section 25 released the classic albums Always Now, Key of Dreams, Love and Hate and perhaps most importantly their 1984 offering From The Hip before disbanding in the late 80s. During their hiatus, their reputation and influence continued to permeate not only the independent music scene but they were heavily influential in dance circles too. Comeback album Part Primativ from 2007 was a haunting, heartfelt collection of songs featuring the last recordings of the late Jenny Cassidy and one of their last records to feature front man Larry Cassidy. Since then the band have continued grafting, delivering a whole host of delightful records including studio, live and remix albums as well as an essential collection of reworked classics (Retrofit), which celebrated the band's past whilst giving a nod to their future.
Recorded at the turn of the year and featuring special guest, original member Paul Wiggin contributing guitar, with regulars Stephen Stringer and the Cassidy's – Vin, Beth, Jo (and new recruit Mike), Elektra features ten new tracks plus a cover of the Kanye West track that sampled from the band's 1981 album Always Now.
There's a whole host of styles, moods and tempos displayed on Elektra. Opening with the electro tinged Laid Back, Beth Cassidy's angelic vocals dominate on this dreamy, aspirational opener. Laid Back is underpinned by Vin's precision drumming and Jo's backing vocals shine too. Chase The Blue shifts the tempo and the mood of the album and is much more like Always Now era Section 25, but with a contemporary twist. Harder and darker than its predecessor, Chase The Blue drives along with a pounding rhythm section.
Creatures changes the tempo once again. There's some great interplay from Beth and Jo on vocals whilst the band around them deliver a slick soundscape. All I Ask is another of those innocent, hopeful, ambitious numbers that Section 25 excel at on this album. It Don't Get and You Want Some see a nod to the debut Factory album Always Now – punky, edgy and sharp. Beth and Jo have more angst than displayed earlier. For me, You Want Some is the album highlight.
You Don't Have To Be Liked To Be Good is the best name of a track on the album and sees the band in full on electro mode. It's almost a throwaway track yet still manages to sound like a cool club tune. If there's an anthem on Elektra, then it can be found in The Greatest Thing, with Beth chanting a euphoric “This Is Our Time” chorus. Floating Sun has much the same appeal.
The cover FML is a curious ending for me and another curveball yet understandable as the band give a nod to Kanye West who sampled Hit from their 1981 debut LP on his 2016 tune.
Few bands formed in the late 70s are still producing records anywhere near as assured as this. Never resting on their laurels, Section 25 continue to challenge themselves and their audience. They don't sound like anyone else and seem to me to be peerless. There's a nod to their past, their present and to the future. In Elektra they have sought influence from their own history and they should be applauded for doing so. With the arrival of bassist Mike, the majority of band members are now younger than the band itself and they deserve to be revisited or discovered for the first time by a whole host of music fans young and old. Section 25 are national treasures and they have produced an album with a wide appeal that should satisfy the faithful whilst intriguing and engaging a new generation of fans.
Section 25′s official website can be found here. They are also on Twitter and Facebook.
Elektra can be purchased here.