It’s been a prolific year for individual members of the legendary Underground Lovers with a number of solo releases (R.J. Andrew, Philippa Nihill and Glenn Bennie) and re-issues of past albums. singer Vincenzo Giarrusso has joined his fellow members with the release of ‘I’m With You’ under the moniker Vincey, and it’s a marvelous addition to this magnificent band’s repertoire.
Overall, ‘I’m With You’ has an Antarctic chill to it: an electronic voltage that permeates every track, bathed in a cold light and yet exuding a yearning warmth through the expressive vocals.
The opening title track patters along on a gentle electronic carpet that ripples along with Giarusso’s iconic recognisable vocals – gentle and melancholic. The trademark ear for melody is ever present as is his lyrical acuity. There is an early New Order feel to the electronica and vocals, floating and ethereal like a dream, veering into a Kraftwerkian instrumental ending that carries one off into the ether.
‘Exclusion, Included’ is a more restrained and majestic track, again with a dappling electronica that strokes and massages the ears. Giarrusso’s vocals are haunting and ghostly while the track intensifies as the electronic drum kicks in over an ambulant bass. ‘Oblivious Now’ kicks in with an arpeggiated thrum, vibrant and statuesque. Think of a meeting of Aha and Visage, and yet with a esoteric structure that ebbs and flows. ‘Nathan’ shuffles in on a percussive heartbeat and electronic pulse that drives it forward. The melody is bright and breezy as the track is propelled by the breezy lyrics touched with an element of Giarrusso’s dry observant humour – mess around with Nathan – and a fairground carnival canter that recalls Jona Lewie or Ian Dury with its horn fringes.
‘I’m With You Too’ thumps in with a Cabaret Voltaire synth rumble, an ominous thunder leavened by Giarrusso’s light vocal style – soft and wistful – contrasting with the muscular thrum and wild guitars. Instrumentally, ‘Raa’ reminds me of elements of early Simple Minds (Sons and Fascinations era) with its synth splashes that seemingly rain down on the surface, while the vocals are distant and detached. The result is something mesmerising and dreamy, creating sounds that seemingly invent themselves inside your head as you are drawn in to the warm embracing sound. This is followed by ‘Raa Raa’ which slaps you awake with its disco pace and insistent rumble and flow, the synth stabs creating a complex architecture. Another track that benefits from headphone listening as the sounds spin inside the head.
‘Perfect Dream/Broken Gospel has a motorik beat with Giarrusso’s reverberated vocals to the fore, coasting on his delicate, exquisite and yearning vocals that sometime crack with emotion. A metallic guitar shreds its arching riff and a horn edging adds luster and layers. This is beautiful stuff.
The album ends with a return to ‘I’m With You Too – Other Places Remix’ – a surreal version of the earlier track with back masking and echoing vocals swirling in the air like some monstrous chemically-induced dream. The thrumming bass drone underneath prowls like some threatening storm as the vocals swirl like a ghost.
The album imperceptibly nods to Underground Lovers’ recent reissued vinyl from the late nineties when the band was essentially reduced to Giarrusso and Bennie and created a more spaced out psychedelic brand of electronica. The result sees a heart thumping vibrancy to the instrumentation, which coupled with Giarrusso’s fey melodic delivery creates a delicious contrast. This is not an alternative Underground Lovers album – as, indeed, none of the other individual members’ solo work has been. It has a distinctly Vincey sound, mixing vivid organic vocals with a pulsating beat and a dreamy sonic landscape.
‘I’m With You’ is out now and available through the link below and through all the usual download and streaming sites.
Written, performed, and produced by Vincenzo Giarrusso.
Original tracking and recording by Vincenzo Giarrusso at The Lady Daisy Studio, Fitzroy North, Naarm (Melbourne) Australia.
Guitar on ‘I’m with you too’ and ‘Perfect Dream/Broken Gospel’ by Simona Castricum.
Mixed by Simona Casticum at T-BE Studio.
Mastered for vinyl and streaming by Don Bartley at Benchmark Mastering.