Katie’s looking like Rowland S Howard, a scrag of torn hair and a glare towards the dark with a still-lost and still-boyish charm. Judging book solely by cover, we pick up on the mood and the angst. And while those things are writ large here in ‘Where Have You Been?’, these aren’t the bleak-grit guitar chimes of ‘Pop Crimes’, it’s the goth-gloss of 80s electro.
We could not be closer to 1986. ‘Songs From The Big Chair’ is still spitting out singles, Book Of Love are releasing first album, and in pop’s highest realm is ‘True Blue’. From Chairlift to Tamaryn and all since and after, these sounds are imprinted upon us. Katie Wood takes it back to the source, right down to the arpeggios and the woozy sax outro, it’s disarmingly smooth and familiar.
Amongst these audio aesthetics and their cool retro charm is a checklist of authentic 80s. Light reverb on the snare, 808 toms, metallic high bass twangs, crystalline pads with warm fading swells and those synthesised glockenspiel runs. Elsewhere we might hear one or some of these sounds folded into a modern day take, but here they’re pressed tight and untouched. Above them Katie sings with a practiced detachment right out of a teen bedroom diary, and it lands on the mix like a kiss. I feel guilty how much I enjoy it.
There’s a self-knowing, solemn and sarcastic charm to the sound she’s remade and created. It’s a pin-prick sharp homage to shoulder-jerk pop with enough dark self-doubt to stay shameless.