Saturday, 9 August 2014

Music - Part 267 - Andy Bell

Andy Bell – Torsten The Bareback Saint (SFE Records)
4 August 2014

Erasure vocalist, Andy Bell releases his fourth solo album.  

Interesting perhaps, that two halves of two of the UKs most popular synth duos should both release song-cycle albums within a few weeks of each other.  Marc Almond’s Ten Plagues, an extraordinary piece of work of just voice and piano is followed by Torsten The Bareback Saint, a twenty-two track song cycle made up of full instrumentation and a chance for Andy Bell to show what an underrated voice he has.  And he does.

This new album, to be performed live at the Edinburgh Festival from 5-16 August, is possibly Bell’s finest vocal outing.  Strong and well-tuned, his voice is nothing short of superb throughout and the tracks, written Barney Ashton (lyrics) and Christopher Frost & Simon Bayliss (music) all appear perfect for him.  Where Torsten excels and succeeds is in the ability for each track to be heard individually and still sound relevant.

Torsten is currently 108 years old, sort of.  A polysexual teenager through most of his life but aging recently to take him to forty-two, he has a vibrant strong body with the mind of a withering soul.  The tale of the Dorian Gary-esque character sees his many lovers, male and female, slowly abandon him and die.

It can be crude at times, but that is often its strength as Torsten recalls various scenarios from his past.  Tracks like Freshly Buggered, Vagina and Mobile Fucked being renamed or shortened for the outside sleeve track listing take nothing away from the power and feeling behind the tale.  Hi-Energy, Jazz and siren are all represented where everything flows for a reason, and the reason is to flow.

Fountain Of Youth sees Bell in fine fettle as he takes in a female prostitute and co-habits with until she leaves on his Torsten’s motorbike.  As I Prepare To Take My Life is a heart-wrenching album closer and This Gay Thing Isn’t Working sees Torsten battle with his sexuality.

Torsten The Bareback Saint is as ground-breaking as it is entertaining and is a remarkable piece of work.  As VCMG seemed to re-ignite fellow Erasure genius Vince Clarke, so Andy Bell will walk away from this album with his head held high and chest puffed out knowing that they are both at the top of their game.

Andy Bell will Wow the Edinburgh Festival with a well-chosen and written set of songs, and a voice which probably sounds the best it ever has.


SFE Records
Andy Bell website
Andy Bell on Twitter
Torsten The Bareback Saint wesbite
Marc Almond Ten Plagues review

Published on Louder Than War 1/08/14 - here

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