Shakespears Sister: Hormonally Yours

Shakespears Sister passed us by back in the day, so we listened to this with fresh ears, and it is – as one might expect if they’re bothering to re-release it 30 years on – a strong album.

It doesn’t sound too dated; a cool indie pop band could put something like this out today, though some elements of the production are a little 80s (we kept thinking of Haircut 100, all little bits of percussion and strings padding out the sound).

Shakespears Sister was conceived as a solo project by Siobhan Fahey, former member of Bananarama, and her clout from that (and her husband being Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics) meant she roped in some good people: record producer Richard Feldman and Marcy Levy, writer of Lay Down Sally for Eric Clapton, who became Marcella Detroit for the purposes of the Sister.

Goodbye Cruel World opens and is a decent pop rock track with a big chorus, showcasing the two vocalists (Detroit the soprano, Fahey more bassy).
I Don’t Care follows, a single we vaguely remember; jaunty, with the feel of The Cure about it, and one of those songs that’s terrible to dance to (like Come On Eileen) where the beat is twice as fast as it sounds. (There’s a poem in the middle: Hornpipe, a poem by Dame Edith Sitwell, a study in word rhythm and onomatopoeia, designed to be read to musical accompaniment).

My 16th Apology is fine, maybe a little dated but Are We In Love (clearly a nod to Prince) is good. Black Sky is reminiscent of the Banderas (the offshoot of Jimmy Somerville’s Communards, who were always a cut above most bands of the day), as is the next track, The Trouble with Andre. Catwoman is a glam rock infused track. Closer Turn Your Radio On is the only song that sounds dated, a rather intense ballad that would probably get simpler treatment today.

The only flaw is Stay, the global smash hit even we remembered. It’s not the best song on the album and would have made a reflective interlude in the middle did one not know every note; as it is, its rather mawkish familiarity is a bit annoying (at least you catch yourself singing along to it).

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