Opening with single “Wartime Widow” you get a flavour of what’s to come. Harsh electric bleeping arpeggios, and perfectly blended drum and percussive beats collide with mashed up trashy guitars for the choruses with Melanie’s beautiful vocals which can flick between sensitive and roaring at the drop of a hat. The chorus is insanely catchy and it’s a strong opener. “First Light” is even more catchy as the duo veer towards uptempo rock with guitar hooks and rolling piano riffs over dual layered vocals adding warm to the harshness. The electronic alien sirens in the chorus are fun and it just blends into a sound that the first album hinted at but didn’t stray towards. Here in this album the overall production perfectly balances electronic and rock genres and merges them beautifully.
“Makeup” is just an electro-giggle in spandex. The lyrics and the delivery of them is comical just its all overlaid in an insanely addictive four chord progression with little instrumental flourishes which deceive you into thinking its a simple straight forward track. If this isn’t a club hit then everyone will have missed something very special. “Crying on the Telephone” veers towards Fischerspooner territory with buzzing keyboard notes almost fuzzy 16bit sounding with a chorus that spins around in your head long after you’ve stopped lifting, a great coda and fun “Hello?” section too. Normally these phone call moments in songs are awful and although it doesn’t top the fantastic “Well fuck you then” moment from Transistor, it’s still fun. “Close to the Edge” is a slower track that is about as close to a stadium ballad as the album gets and makes a nice change of pace.
“Three More Days” showcasese Pike’s ability to flex his electronic skills with all kinds of tricks and gdagets that make this the most straight forward dance track on the album. Single “Girl.Kill.Smile” showcases how rock and electronica fusion should be done with a raucous angsty track with an almost chant like melodic vocal riff shouting the tracks title. It reminds me of some experimental Soft Cell music from the mid 80’s – dark, dirty and seedy whilst sticking to you like glue. “Senseless” is another example of the seedier side of Huski with its grinding bassline and deep electric guitar chugging while Melanie purrs “I’ll drive you senseless”. Although it lacks specific song progression it holds a certain hypnotic charm instead that makes it alluring.
“Front Row Seat” is a blues track Huski style with traditional blues chord progression in the verses but given the spangled treatment. There is a directness with this track and simplicity compared to most tracks which sets it apart from the others until the final chorus. “Runaway” fronts electric guitar riffs over a dance/rock track with another simple yet insanely catchy chorus. I must apologise for saying the word catchy in this review too much, but I found myself tapping out most of the tracks with my pens and glue sticks at work after the first couple of listens of the album. It’s not often I’ll undergo public humiliation in the name of music. “Blind Steps” see’s the piano placed in the foreground of the main riff with a waltzing drum beat and an uplifting chorus as Melanie bursts into various different vocal streams and squeals her delight. The closer is actually a b-side from Make Me Your Picture, “Strangelove” and feels slightly different to the rest of the album as its production feels like the instruments are placed differently to the rest of the album. It’s a beautifully haunting track that’s equally hypnotic and soothing as it is slightly unnerving. I like the fact their no real drums in the track either, it’s just made up of pulsing bass rhythms and frequency flicks for percussion over the organs.
“Strangelove” surprised me at how ridiculously together and seemless the entire album is. I really enjoyed their debut album but this is a masterclass of electro-rock from start to finish and in a year that’s already given me some fantastic music, I find this slotted currently in my top 5 albums of 2011 easily. Buy it now and get your glitter balls and black lipstick out!