Arriving less than six months after their mammoth The Pink Album, David Holmes, Jade Vincent and Keefus Ciancia offer up another calling card of dense electronic music with an accessible edge
Unloved are one of those bands who you’re probably aware of, even if you don’t know the name. You may have heard the work of founder member David Holmes before, given that he’s a notable composer of TV soundtracks, and formed a trio with Jade Vincent and Keefus Ciancia who pretty much soundtracked the BBC show Killing Eve.
Whereas Killing Eve started off in terrific fashion and then tailed off badly by the time it limped into its final season, Unloved’s music has remained at a steady trajectory throughout. They’ve created four albums of dense electronic music with an accessible edge, and the latest, Polychrome, arrives less than six months after the mammoth double album The Pink Album.
In fact, there appears to have been so much recorded for The Pink Album (which weighed in at 22 tracks over 90 minutes), that the nine songs on Polychrome have been taken from the same sessions. So, it’s more of the same, but that’s not a bad thing, especially for those who thought The Pink Album erred on the side of self-indulgence.
Unlike its sister album, there are no guest stars on this record (Jarvis Cocker, Étienne Daho and Jon Spencer all appeared on The Pink Album), which lets full focus fall on Unloved themselves. While Holmes and Cianca’s arrangements are crucial to the band, it’s Jade Vincent’s vocals that are always the main focus – even when the song seems as light as a feather, as in the wonderfully titled Thank You For Being That Friend, You Know, The One You Never Want To Say Goodbye To, it’s Vincent that provides the dramatic edge the track needs.
There’s a woozy, disorientating feel to the title track, which opens the record, propelled by some fierce drums and typically atmospheric vocals from Vincent. Thrill Me has half-spoken vocals which fits in with the cinematic sheen thrown in over the whole album, while I Just Stop sees Vincent turn up the Dusty Springfield comparisons to 10, a huge string section encompassing her vocals. Best of all is Far From Here, a track from Unloved’s debut EP which is re-recorded for this album and sounds absolutely sumptuous throughout its near seven minutes.
There’s inevitably a slightly ‘bitty’ feel to some of Polychrome, given that’s it a collection of tracks that didn’t make it onto an original album. Some songs, like the closing Rain On My Parade, still feel a bit like filler (Far From Home would have ended the album on a far better note) and a couple of tracks would possibly be better off as the kind of incidental music that the band do so well. It probably wouldn’t be the best entry point to Unloved, but for anyone who can’t get enough of Holmes, Vincent and Ciancia’s grandiose anthems, this will be a treat.
• This review was amended on 27 February 2023 to remove an erroneous mention of a James Bond movie soundtrack and two mentions of David Arnold