Album review: Sally Dige - Hard to Please (4 stars)

Album review: Sally Dige – Hard to Please

(Night School Records)

Mopey synth-pop, moody cold wave and melancholy Italo sounds on Canadian Sally Dige’s debut album

It's moody keys galore in Canadian / South African / Danish cold-waver Sally Dige's debut album, Hard To Please. With a pretty firm background in the arts, costume design and theatre, her musical influences are pretty obvious from the get go – think 101 era Depeche Mode, the melancholia of The Cure's Pornography and even Queen Madge at her most minimal. Like a modern spin on the opening goth disco sequence with Bauhaus in Tony Scott's The Hunger, add some contemporary instrumentation set to a 1983 preset and we've got Dige's musical template down to a tee.

Fortunately it's not all moody navel-gazing though; there's a sweeping upbeat hardiness to 'Your Girl', where echoing vocals drift in like a long-lost Shakespears Sister - and even an ‘Into the Groove’-like bass line on 'Doppelganger', an example of Dige delving into Italo and Europop territory which will no doubt get a few fannypacks shaking.

Highlights would have to go to the opening track and album title ‘Hard To Please’, which works pretty splendidly as a stark introduction, and is hella raunchy with a great Dave Gahan swagger to it – and the more emotive post punk of ‘A Certain Beauty’. That one will bum you out just enough before the dancefloor fillers get you a little too carried away, and shows excellent pacing and a modal shift just in time to adequately iron out any melodramatic cheeriness before the even broodier finale, ‘Dance of Delusion’.

It's maybe not treading any new ground in a songwriting capacity, but in all fairness that's probably not on the agenda for Madame Dige. It's a tonal and regressive personal journey into an often poorly imitated era of mopey pop music which she does a lot of justice to within these eight tracks. Perhaps not featuring the same level of stark-pop excesses found on Blackest Ever Black’s Tropic of Cancer, Dige is on the other hand possibly the yin to Night School's Happy Meals’ yang of last year. Hard to Please, with its darkened decadence seems to act like the total antithesis to the summer months of hook-laden pop and nauseating EDM which lie ahead. A good thing for those who prefer wearing dark colours in the sunshine.

Out now.

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