Black Affair

Pleasure Pressure Point | V2
By GUSTAVO TURNER  |  August 19, 2008
3.0 3.0 Stars
Steve Mason has been making interesting music since 1996, when the first of the three legendary EPs by his Beta Band was released to critical acclaim. The Betas disbanded in ’04, and whereas the more stable members of the band regrouped as charming retroistas the Aliens, the mercurial Mason has taken off into uncharted territory. Black Affair, his latest synth-pop experiment, belongs to the same genre as Jarvis Cocker’s Relaxed Muscle: sensitive indie man boy breaks up cult band, goes clubbing, is sexed up by shady ladies, feels somewhere between good-bad and bad-bad, tells the world about it, repeat. (See also Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not To Come,” and, from the POV of the shady lady, Madonna’s “Erotica.”) At first, the minimalist, glitchy grooves sound like a lot of the neo-electro trend these days (e.g., Knight Rider’s Kitt beatboxing the instrumental break in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”). But Mason’s off-kilter lyrics and psychedelic sense of melody soon overpower the thrift-store Gary Numan and Depeche pastiches and the trite S&M vibe, and “Will She Come” and “Japanese Happening” end up fitting perfectly with the best of his former band.
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