The Associates – The Affectionate Punch
CD Album, Remastered, Reissue, 2005
One of the classic haunted albums for me. I think I bought it after reading an interview with the lead singer Billy Mackenzie, and the way the reporter described his voice as being similar to David Bowie and Russell Mael of Sparks. With that how could I refuse a listen. And when the needle hit the groove I was sent to another part of the world. A beautiful but sad world.
For this album the basic line-up was voice, guitar, bass, drums and some keyboard. The sound is very sparse but the vocals are on top of the melody. There is something very dramatic happening via the music, and the arrangements are tight. The moments when Billy lets it loose with his voice is when the universe breaks down. At least that's the way I hear it!
This is the first album, and the beauty of it is that the songs hint at things, but don't clearly state it. It is almost you wake up in the middle of a conversation and you are just picking up the threads of the last word you heard. You think you know, but the fact is you really don't know. The mystery in their work is one of anticipating a narrative of some sort, but it is only a trace of that work. In a way The Associates at this time reminds me of a Alain Robbe-Grillet novel, where you get the facts, but you have to pull it all together to see what's behind the door.