The Blackheart Orchestra - Diving For Roses album review

Sugary prog pop gets peppery late on

The Blackheart Orchestra - Diving For Roses album artwork

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It’s confusing – if in this case welcome – when an album changes its colours completely halfway through.

For the first few songs, this Brit duo’s debut has little to recommend it, floating through the insipid tropes of TV-ad-orientated pop, bringing to mind Ellie Goulding wowing members of the Royal Family with her saccharine coos. But then somebody involved realises they’re going to expire from blandness, and they start musically pushing the boat out – tentatively, but with good intentions. So the second half sees an influx of nervy electronica and the kind of motifs Mike Oldfield might have dabbled with on one of his second-tier albums. It still won’t frighten the horses, but suggests that The Blackheart Orchestra didn’t choose their name as a perverse wind-up. Vocalist Chrissy Mostyn adopts that breathy, airy technique which is over-familiar in the current climate but in superior moments, like Sebastian, evokes Bat For Lashes. Multi-instrumentalist sidekick Rick Pilkington, the Dave to her Annie, adeptly shifts tracks from 80s throbs recalling Propaganda to voguish decaf-EDM, but often the pair are mimicking things to left field of the pop charts. Those latter stages suggest a more fruitful way forward for them.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.