Secret Affair - Soho Dreams

They're back, with new music. Secret Affair, one of the great bands from the uprising of 79, released Soho Dreams last month.  There's a class picture of Ian Page and Dave Cairns on the cover, against a neon background, which sets the scene neatly for what is inside.

First impressions are that it boasts a harder sound than some of their earlier material. That doesn't surprise me.  When I caught them a couple of years back, playing at the Pulse festival in Nottingham, they certainly packed a punch.  That is the mood that greets you here.

The title track gives a strong indication of the album's direction with a solid slice of rhythm and soul and Ian Page's urban poetry about life, youthful innocence and the city's underbelly. Walk Away is a song that grows on you with every play, complete with some top notch brass.  And the r&b classic, I Don't Need No Doctor, which was covered by Humble Pie amongst others, is given a full on treatment.  The ending is particularly strong, showcasing an on fire slice of Dave Cairns guitar - which is a feature of the album - and some top drawer Hammond.

Turn Me On and Land Of Hope find the band firing on all cylinders, while one of my favourite tunes here, Soul Of The City, has a smoky edge that drags you into its enclave.  In My Time, with its vintage Cairns lyric,  is one of the album's stand outs.  I have seen comparisons mentioned with the Quadrophenia album and I can understand why.  But that shouldn't take anything away from the originality of the tune, which is tough, thoughtful and gritty, and a great example of a band on form.

Soho Dreams is a lot more than the return of one of my favourite eighties bands. It is a fresh, original album in its own right, with songs that have something new to say about contemporary Britain.   In short, it is one of the soundtrack albums for the latter half of 2012.  I hope there's more to come.

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