‘Fuse’ is the first new studio album in over twenty-four years from Everything But The Girl. It was written and produced by Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn over the spring-summer of 2021. The duo recorded ‘Fuse’ in secret at home and in a small riverside studio outside Bath with friend and engineer Bruno Ellingham.
The album opens with `Nothing Left To Lose` and it seems like the duo have just started up more or less where they left off in the mid to late nighties but maybe less downtempo and with Tracey`s vocals sounding slightly richer maybe dare I say it a little more mature. The track itself seems to relate to a one-sided love affair. Piano keys lead us into `Run a Red Light` a ballad like composition which is fairly introspective lyrically and kind of sucks you in without you realising it.
`Caution to the Wind` opens with handclaps which become quite hypnotic as the vocals are sprinkled atop with a repetitive underlying electronic pulse like beat and piano key tinges. It gathers pace just before the midpoint with some complementary harmonies adding to the lead vocal. A song where the narrator implores the recipient to allow them into their life as all they desire is to be home with and near them. There is a sort of late night, bar room texture to `When You Mess Up` a number that conjures up images of a seedy, smoke filled, basement bar in the early hours of the morning where the singer is in a reflective mood. The vocal delivery at times sounds like it`s been shared through a modulator or vocoder. Strange but appealing.
`Time and Time Again` is a trip hop electro musing that seems to relate to somebody who is there for that special somebody as and when they need them. Images of lives full of fast cars, European travel, and fast living spring to mind on `No One Knows We’re Dancing` which may be just a dream or imagined existence shared against an absorbing ethereal electronic beat.
`Lost` is another dreamy submission with a quietly shared electronic undertone and lyrics that appear to reflect loss relating to real or possibly imagined subjects and topics from close family members to friends and work. We have a further transfixing listen with the ambient `Forever` which musically allows a kind of wish list to attain a Valhalla or heaven on earth to be shared over its trance like beat.
`Interior Space` is a brief piano led piece with breathy vocals that seem to be self-examining and ruminate on one`s own thought processes. The album concludes with `Karaoke` a moving laid-back jangling electronic delve in loneliness perhaps.
`Fuse` is an absorbing listen and tends to take you to a place where before you know it the album has come full circle. I`m sure it`ll bring up more thoughts, opinions, and impressions the more I listen to it. I read somewhere that the Everything But the Girl sound was construed as lustrous electronic soul and I would have to say that`s a fairly apt summation.
The meaning of the word fuse is to join or blend to form a single entity and the partnership of Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn have certainly achieved this on their return.
Rating 8.5 / 10