ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Masquerade by Bananarama (July 2022)

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2

TRACKLIST: Favourite; Stay Wild; Velvet Lies; Masquerade; Running With The Night; Bad Love; Let’s Go Outside; Brand New; Need A Little More Time; Forever Young; Waiting For The Sun To Shine

Masquerade is, quite simply, Bananarama’s best album since their 1987 hits-packed, career-high Wow!

  • Read on for reasons including how to see the band on tour this summer

A great deal has changed in the intervening 35 years not least the fact that the Nanas are now a duo – childhood best friends and Bristolians Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward – rather than a trio.

But Masquerade rides the wave of the current popularity of bands like The Weeknd, with their 80s-sounding enormo-hits, and brings with it an authenticity because Sara and Keren were having their biggest chart smashes in that decade.

This is perhaps best exemplified with track Forever Young which has a hook that sounds like a-Ha at their most poppy, reminiscent of some of The Weeknd’s biggest hits of recent years.

Elsewhere Bad Love is so catchy that it sounds like a less laidback Jessie Ware while still embracing the 70s disco flourishes which have also been so in vogue in recent years.

Covers of Sara’s pop star daughter Alice D’s songs – Favourite and particularly Brand New – bring a freshness to the party and we wonder whether her involvement has sprinkled some vitality into the mix not least because the album doesn’t take a breather from its dancefloor frenzy sounding especially Daft Punk on the latter.

It’s always good to celebrate a 40th anniversary with new material particularly when it is as strong as this and we can’t wait to see the duo launch this album with gigs in London next month. Tickets

We just missed Bananarama when they supported Culture Club at their recent and postponed Kenwood House gig in north London last month and last saw them live at Omeara in London in 2019.

We said then: ‘We’ve held off reviewing (last album) In Stereo because we’re still developing an appreciation for it but tonight it makes more sense in this context and the Blondie-esque Looking For Someone is especially strong.

‘The immediate future includes more regular festival gigs this summer and after that who knows? The dream? They revealed their shared enthusiasm for Tom Hardy and would love to put on a West End musical featuring their songs adding: ‘We’re probably too old to be in it though.’

We never quite got into the groove with In Stereo but Masquerade offers a very Pet Shop Boys-sounding title track at its heart which was a recent song of the month for us.

We understand they’re already incorporating both Favourite and Masquerade into their live sets. We’d love to hear more of the new album at their Lafayette dates next month.

Have Keren and Sara just perfectly soundtracked our summer with this fantastic album decades after Cruel Summer did so previously? True confessions.

  • Main pictures by Facebook courtesy Bananarama Tickets
  • Have you heard any of these songs or seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow monstagigz on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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