Twenty-six years is a long time in the music industry; in that time we've seen the rise and fall of grunge, watched in horror as boy-bands took over the world and are currently in the grip of a pop industry determined largely by talent contests. Back when pop music was written for quality and quantity consumption, rather than just quantity, bands like Dexy's Midnight Runners reigned supreme with their optimistic lyrics and foot-tapping hooks. The twenty-sex year hiatus is finally over, with ex-stalwarts Kevin Rowland, Mick Talbot, Pete Williams and Jim Paterson all returning to the studio for One Day I'm Going To Soar. Under the guise of Dexys (no longer Midnight Runners), Rowland and co sound as in tune with one another as they did all those years ago, drawing folk, R&B and traditional pop influences from across the musical spectrum.
Of the eleven songs on the album, five have only one-word titles, but rather than continue the trend of unimaginative ideas, each track has its own durable quality. On album opener 'Now' we are brought under the false premise that ODIGTS will be a relatively downbeat affair, soon after the one-minute mark however this offhand introduction is brushed affirmatively to one side as the R&B drum beat and all too familiar horns reinvigorate the track. It's almost as if Dexys never departed from us at all. Just as you brace yourself for a jovial album, 'Lost' slows the tone down without delay. The string arrangements are heart-rending with Rowland's disconcerted vocals warbling ahead. On to 'Me' then, which is a particularly personal affair for Rowland, "there's something wrong with me/.. don't seem to like me no/they want to hurt me so," present a self-deprecating front-man who for all his achievements still feels dejected and unloved in the world. The lounge jazz accompaniment makes the track all the more tender and open. Even on the superbly titled 'She Got A Wiggle' the sound remains despondent, turns out the opening of 'Now' wasn't such a false pretence.
This is a peculiar album, it is schizophrenic and a little bi-polar in its constant shifting from happy to sad and you really don't know where the able lies. The exchanges between Rowland and Madeleine Hyland on tracks 'I'm Always Going To Love You' and 'Incapable Of Love' are well balanced and even a little amusing, but are truly a juxtaposition of its predecessors. Lead single 'Nowhere Is Home' is an eighties cabaret number that would sound at home on some of the group's earlier releases, musically it sits between Americana and soulful pop which may seem a strange combination yet it sounds strangely appropriate for the band.
Rowland's vocals are an acquired taste, maybe not so much as his choice in lingerie (don't worry he's fully clothed on the cover of ODIGTS) but they are still bespoken. This is by no means a bad album, yet there's few point when the album really stands out for reasons other than its peculiarity. I'm sure for die-hard fans this is the one release that matters in 2012, for everyone else it is merely another eighties re-union that will probably flight under most radars.