xPropaganda - The Heart Is Strange: "a compelling listen"

Triumphant return for reconfigured 80s art-pop outfit.

(Image: © ZTT)

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Reuniting original Propaganda members Claudia Brücken and Susanne Freytag alongside producer Stephen Lipson, The Heart Is Strange is a compelling listen, sounding exactly like it could have followed their old group’s debut, A Secret Wish in 1985. From the synthesised detonation at the start of the album, the listener knows exactly what to expect. With its dispassionate voices, orchestral stabs and additional synthesised percussion entering at the halfway mark, six-minute opener The Night captures all the urgency and thrill of the original Propaganda. 

The call and response on Beauty Is The Truth couldn’t be more high-period sixth form playlet ZTT, with lines such as ‘a firm handshake or a Chinese burn’. Don’t (You Mess With Me) is a succulent, strident slice of glam pop. The 10-minute closer Ribbons Of Steel, with its mention of ‘the old country’, finds flashes of Underworld, David Sylvian and Talk Talk. It sounds old, but good old, an amalgam of 80s and 90s that roars in the 20s. The austere grandeur of The Heart Is Strange and the interplay by Brücken and Freytag is like eavesdropping again on the pair once labelled ‘ABBA from hell’.

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Daryl Easlea

Daryl Easlea has contributed to Prog since its first edition, and has written cover features on Pink Floyd, Genesis, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and Gentle Giant. After 20 years in music retail, when Daryl worked full-time at Record Collector, his broad tastes and knowledge led to him being deemed a ‘generalist.’ DJ, compere, and consultant to record companies, his books explore prog, populist African-American music and pop eccentrics. Currently writing Whatever Happened To Slade?, Daryl broadcasts Easlea Like A Sunday Morning on Ship Full Of Bombs, can be seen on Channel 5 talking about pop and hosts the M Means Music podcast.