Section 25 – Dark Light (Factory Benelux)
Released 25th February 2013
Anthony H Wilson 2007 – “Those clever bastards from Blackpool”
Dark Light is the first Section 25 album of new material since the death of founder member Larry Cassidy. The band’s history is littered with tragedy, Larry’s wife Jenny, also a member of the band, died young as well. But Section 25 have kept together under Larry’s brother Vinny and now Larry and Jenny’s daughter Bethany. For this album, another family member Jo has been recruited on backing vocals.
The idea of a 1980s Factory band fronted by a young, attractive woman in her twenties sounds like a terrible idea on paper, but Dark Light actually demonstrates the absolute opposite. The result is eighties electronica brought smack bang into the 21st Century, by a combination of clever updating of the sound to make it relevant today and the pre-requisite of a fantastic set of songs. It respectfully nods to the past, but it’s a very forward-looking record.
It’s Bethany’s vocals that take centre stage for most of the album. Her voice is light and breezy in parts, but also with some suggestive, flirty and often downright provocative elements to it. When she coos “let’s be abusive, intrusive, corruptive and you love it” on Pitch Black Box, or about “double bed Utopia” on lead single My Outrage, you can feel the sexual tension bursting out of the speakers, but there’s a lighter almost child-like innocence on Letter To America which talks of “heaven’s full of shooting stars travelling fast and far”. Jo’s backing vocals add a darker edge, providing an interesting and perfect contrast.
Other highlights of the album include the two tracks from 2011’s excellent Hacienda EP Colour, Movement, Sex and Violence (of which there is a second CMSV Dub version later on the album) and Inner Drive, both considerably reworked and Memento, which has male and female vocals dueling over the chorus.
The record still stays true to Section 25’s Blackpool roots, Bethany’s accent still strong on the parts of songs that are half-sung / half-spoken, it was mainly recorded in their studios there and only a Northern band would come up with a song that includes the line “you’re so bloody beautiful”, a good old fashioned swear word used not for effect, but because it works.
If this record had been produced by a group of young twenty-year old pretty kids in dark clothes, it’d rightly be hailed as a genuine electro-pop classic and Bethany lauded as an icon for young girls to look up to. Sadly, that’s not how the industry and mainstream press work. However, somehow, against all the odds, Section 25 have produced a genuinely exciting edgy pop record without compromising their history and legacy.
They play the following shows to support the album :
Saturday March 23 – London Water Rats
Saturday May 11 – Manchester Gullivers
Lead single My Outrage is released on April 21 on Factory Benelux as part of Record Store Day 13.
All words by David Brown. More work by David Brown can be found here.