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Modesty Blaise – Photo Credit:M M Van Dyke
When did Bristol become such a cool city in terms of musical output. Was it before or after the appearance of Massive Attack, Tricky, and Portishead? Who knows, but what we can say is that it’s still a hotbed of music activity. We’ve covered quite a few artists from the neighborhood in the recent past:
Davey Woodward and The Winter Orphans,
and The Flatmates, to name but a few..
Today we present another Bristol fave – indiepop outfit Modesty Blaise, whose new album ‘he Modesty Blaise will be released via German label From Lo-Fi to Disco! at the end of next month.
Fine purveyors of baroque pop, this is not only the band’s third studio album, but their first long-play in two decades (their previous one Melancholia being released in 2001). Fantabulous dance-pop, Modesty Blaise will remind you that Brits are the king of wit and groovy retro-laced musical wanderings, not far from the mark set by Pulp back in the ’90s.
Ahead of this, we give you a sneak-peek of the enjoyable performance music video for the record’s lead single ‘Girls Just Wanna Dance’, a perfect orchestral pop song and live favorite singalong at the band’s gigs.
This new release was preceded by a string of singles, including ‘Natalie Vendredi’ with its endearing nouvelle vague video, which will also be included on the album. The band has been building upon each of these offerings, calling to mind such bands as Pulp, The Divine Comedy, XTC and High Llamas. Very catchy, very smooth, very clever text – Modesty Blaise makes for cheeky pop perfection.
Modesty Blaise have been around for a few decades in various guises. After forming in late 1993, the band quickly recorded their debut single ‘Christina Terrace’ with the esteemed Edwyn Collins at the helm, garnering them immediate success with a live appearance on ITV and inclusion among many many end-of-year top music rankings. This acclaim however was not enough to quell the kind of internecine warfare that Modesty Blaise have become famous for.
After Melancholia, the band faced one delay after another with line-up changes and deteriorating personal circumstances. An all-too-familiar spiral, the years went by slowly but, no matter how bad it got, frontman and songwriter Jonny Collins still had his guitars in his mum’s attic.
“When everyone else was in their bedrooms working on guitar solos and dreaming of being a rock god, I was reading biographies of Cole Porter and listening to Gershwin and Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin. I try to write concise things, with deliberate moves away from that where necessary,” says Jonny Collins.
“Melody, arrangement and counter melodies… The 3 minute pop single is, I’d contest, the summit of great art. It is timeless, and we consistently get it wrong confusing art with commerce. If your art (or your pop record) sounds like today, it may sound like yesterday pretty soon. Pop iconoclasm.”
Oher career highlights include supporting Robbie Williams at London’s O2 Arena, inclusion in a Rough Trade compilation, an ITV company documentary on Jonny Collins, and a BBC Radio session involving seventeen people.
On February 5, ‘Girls Just Wanna Dance’ will be available digitally everywhere, including Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp. The Modesty Blaise album will be released on March 26.
Jonny Collins – vocals
David W Brown – bass
Gregory Jones – guitars
Mark Bradley – drums
Alastair Jenkins – guitars
Roger MacDuff – violins
Jörn Elling Wuttke – mixing at Klangfabrik Frankfurt
Feast your eyes and ears on a few of the videos the band put out in the past year: