Former Veronica Falls frontwoman Roxanne Clifford has taken a turn toward the synthesised. Where her background was filled with bittersweet tales of love and comic death set to jangly guitars, her present finds her still fixated on the same bitter struggles, but now there is a spangly, ’80s pop flavour making up the sweet half.
Clifford, channelling a long Glaswegian tradition, has a flair for a tearstained melody. Tracks like ‘Living Things Don’t Last’ find twinkly synths clashing with forlorn lyrics sung in wistful reminiscence, and it is a measure of the strength of her writing that her full-bodied leap into the analogue synth world has seen her sacrifice none of that melancholic ecstasy.
There is nothing revolutionary about Dizzy Spells, but it would take effort to resist its charms. ‘The Girls are Chewing Gum’, produced by UK garage lynchpin Todd Edwards, is a stomping Chicago house-inspired indie disco throwdown, equipped to rub shoulders with the best of DFA or Creation. The pristine ‘Moral Damage’ sees Clifford in a bilingual duet with former Veronica Falls bandmate Marion Herbain, while Clifford’s wit shines through on album highlight ‘The Pressure’: “My friends tell me you asked for me/ The world could end before we agree”.
There is a formula uniting these ten tracks, but it is a robust one. The album, like so many in this tradition, is there to hold your hand through those moments of peak feels, whether at the end of a drunken night or in the despair of a lonely bedroom. Voices like Roxanne Clifford are unquestioning, non-judgemental friends that will support you when you would rather shut real people out. It is to be celebrated that she has survived the demise of her former band; she has a lot more to give.