It’s a crime really that the furore surrounding TATU and their ‘are they aren’t they’ lesbian love affair has always overshadowed the music. All the Things She Said was 24 carat gold uber-pop, a turbo charged ram raid of a record. It took no prisoners. The video toyed with sexual ambiguity like the best subversive pop has always done…
From Mick Jagger through David Bowie, Morrissey, Brett Anderson onto the likes of Franz Ferdinand. The Franz Ferdinand single Do You Want To is a sexually charged and ambiguous question mark, Alex Kapranos playing the same games, but no one questions his motives, no-one thinks that it undermines the music Franz Ferdinand create. No one calls it exploitation, no questions in the House of Commons or banner headlines in the tabloid press. See it’s okay for skinny guys with guitars and a knowing wink to muddy the waters, but two feisty girls straight out of Russia? No, that will never do.
Now having listened to Dangerous and Moving I feel rather stupid and callow for penning that first paragraph. Why? Well, because this is a clunker, rubbish, stale as duck pond bread. Lena Katina and Julia Volkova have freed themselves from their puppet master Boris Renski. This new found freedom has allowed them a choice of producers and writers. Now who do you think the girls’ called? Marshall Mathers, The Neptunes, Kayne West? No. Linda Perry? No. Sting, Richard Carpenter, Trevor Horn and Dave Stewart.
It’s as if the last record TATU heard was Now That’s What I Call Music 6. Maybe they are still catching up post Communism and have just discovered 1986. Is this what Sting had in mind when he sang Russians?
Gone are the techno pop backings of 200km/h In The Wrong Lane. In their place is a hellish hybrid of bombastic production and rock guitars. Not rock as in AC/DC, but rock as in Dire Straits. The single All About Us with its quasi-operatic vocals and orchestral synth stabs is so ’80s that it could have been lifted from the soundtrack to Cocktail. It’s Tom Cruise driving down the highway with the roof down and that grin of his.
Imagine The Mission or Bauhaus covering Madonna on Depeche Mode‘s first keyboard and you have some idea of the torturous nature of Cosmos (Outer Space). Goth synth rock without the angst and anger of Nine Inch Nails. Love Me Not attempts to cram both modes of the Avril Lavigne into a single track. You get heartbreak piano and rock guitars. It feel like you’re trapped in a lift, squeezed between two teenagers with extremely loud iPods. Grim.
Gomenasai is possibly the worst track I have heard all year. The lyrics address the on/off state of the duo’s relationship. They are completely undermined when you see that they where written by someone else. How can they invest the lines with any kind of passion when they are third hand? Surely they would be able to pen something as risible as “I never needed a friend like I do now” themselves.
It’s hardly Ted Hughes and the backing is painful. Acoustic guitars, weeping strings – and I am sure I can hear the kitchen sink in there somewhere. It was arranged by Richard Carpenter, and sounds like it.
Are they lovers? Who cares. I don’t, having sat through this. Amazingly I have seen reviews of this record that compare it to ABBA. That’s so wide of the mark. If this is the modern ABBA then Rachael Stevens is the new Elvis Presley. Avoid.