Manchester’s Julie Ann Campbell, aka LoneLady, piqued listeners’ interest with her debut album five years ago and has now returned with the remarkable Hinterland, an incredible hat tip to early ‘80s dance music. In a city with such a strong male-dominated mod rock tradition, LoneLady stands out a mile with classic Roland riffs and Nile Rodgers-by-way-of-Andy Taylor guitar fills. If the mention of these elements make you dance about with nostalgic glee, you will enjoy Hinterland. Her echoey vocals are matched perfectly with synth pop sounds that bring Art of Noise (especially on opener “Into the Cave”) and Joy Division to mind.
“Bunkerpop” would not have been out of place at New York City’s Danceteria, Manchester’s Haçienda, or Birmingham’s Rum Runner circa 1983. You can easily fantasize that The Police’s Andy Summers dropped by to add some magic to the song (which he didn’t). Comparisons to early chirpy Madonna are overstated except maybe a line here or there on the poppy “Groove It Out.” Her vocal style on most of the album, especially the closing track “Mortar Remembers Your Name,” has more in common with Sinead O’Connor’s The Lion and the Cobra – with less keening — than “Lucky Star,” although there is a hint of understated country tremolo twang in the title track.
Aside from the bleak, fragile, apocalyptic “Flee!” Hinterland is clever, unapologetically great pre-EDM disco fun. Its out, on Warp Records, right now.