Title: The Heart Is Strange
Genre: New Wave
Release Date: 20th May 2022
Label: Universal Music
Who would have ever expected to have a follow up to the cult PROPAGANDA’s album ‘A Secret Wish’? Sorry, ‘1234’ to me doesn’t count as a PROPAGANDA album as Claudia Brücken, Suzanne Freytag (guest on one track) and Ralf Dörper were out of the loop and the result being, at best, not even worth a China Crisis alike album.
Fans of PROPAGANDA have seen so many times their hopes born and dead (1998s part reunion and 2004 full band performance at the Concert For The Prince’s Trust, German TV appearances, 2005s release of a new track, ‘Valley Of The Machine Gods’) that no more dreams within any dreams would have seen another PROPAGANDA (with our without x) album any time soon. It’s back in 2018 that Suzanne and Claudia began appearing in festivals under the name D:UEL, and later XPROPAGANDA, with the release of the live album ‘A Secret Place’. And now… it’s real with a full new LP, produced by Steve Lipson (who co-produced ‘Secret Wish’ and the post PROPAGANDA’s project of Claudia, ACT, back in 1988).
The first synth sound opening ‘The Night’ put you straight in the mood. Big bass sound surrounding the space, a jazzy mute trumpet floating over a sea of synths, orchestral stabs… forget the “x”… THIS is the sound we were expecting for a perfect follow up of ‘A Secret Wish’. And the two voices of Claudia and Suzanne reunited. Was it 36 years ago already? ‘Chasing Utopia’ reminds me of Claudia’s ‘Love And A million of other things’ with those smooth and organic basses and atmospheric sounds. ‘Beauty Is Truth’, already released as a single in an edited form, follow up brilliantly. ‘Only Human’, probably one of my favourite track so far, is built upon strong synth basses, great vocal arrangements and discreet guitars.
‘Don’t (You Mess With Me)’, first single launched a couple of months ago, shows a surprising anger in Claudia’s voice, emphasized by a distortion on her vocals, and some aggressive synths basses. Lipson’s guitar is perfectly at the right place and the track grows bars after bars. This should be a highlight of the live gigs. The album is completed by three other tracks, ‘No Ordinary Girl’, ‘The Wolves Are Returning’ - one of the closest to PROPAGANDA’s original sound - and the atmospheric ‘Ribbons Of Steel’. The Deluxe edition comes in with the full album in instrumental versions as well as the three Radio edits of ‘Don’t (You Mess With me)’, ‘Beauty Is Truth’ and ‘Only Human’.
Let’s hope, after this splendid return, that Claudia and Suzanne won’t wait for some more decades to continue the adventure. They demonstrated, alongside with Lipson, they were more than entitled to carry the flame with this unique atmosphere and sounding.
01. The Night
02. Chasing Utopia
03. Beauty Is the Truth
04. Only Human
05. Don’t (You Mess with Me)
06. No Ordinary Girl
07. The Wolves Are Returning
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Total: 10 / 10