Blancmange – Mindset album review

22 05 2020

Mindset is the third album to be written and co-produced by Neil Arthur with Benge (Wrangler/John Foxx And The Maths), and follows last years excellent Wanderlust album.

The title track is a strong opener, with familiar drum patterns and an addictive guitar and synth interplay that sticks in your head for days.

The synth lines on Warm Reception and This Is Bliss will surely warm the hearts of fans of early 80s electronic music.

“Drinking to forget, or was it to remember”

Arthur spits out his distaste at the unaccountable keyboard warriors hiding behind their screens and spewing bile in Antisocial Media. Initially sounding genuinely pissed off, but with his tongue firmly in cheek, Arthur’s Antisocial Media feels truthful, but also makes me smile. Anonymous truckers indeed!

“Two faced anonymous truckers… Correct me if I’m wrong”

Clean Your House is the most commercial track on Mindset – bright sparkling synths and clap-happy drum patterns sit at odds with the lyrical tale of a messy relationship coming to it’s bitter end.

Despite it’s darker lyrical subject matter, Insomniacs Tonight is an optimistic and warmly uplifting track. The music really fits the lyric and at times displays a nostalgic feel of earlier Blancmange, but this is definitely more a tale of restlessly lying wide awake staring at the ceiling, rather than living on it.

“No light”

Sleep With Mannequin has more than it’s fair share of sonic twists and turns, though the tempo remains constant throughout, at a metronomic pace. Benge’s work on this track reminds me a little of Richard Burgess’ Landscape.

The album’s longest track is the six and a half minute trip that is Diagram. A sparse but slowly building arrangement topped with a spoken tale of searching for transparency and truth, Diagram does not overstay its welcome.

I want to hear, hear silence”

Not Really (Virtual Reality) is an oddity on the album. An almost glam-rock stomper, heavy on guitar and stuttering sequences, before dropping off to usher in the final, atmospheric piece in When, with the beats slowed down to a heartbeat pace topped off with dark electronic pulses as Arthur contemplates “When is anything about what it’s about”.

Mindset is much less oblique proposition than its predecessor Wanderlust, and it works well as a complete album, with a wider sonic spectrum than it’s predecessors.

Lyrically the album is strong – Neil Arthur looks at the consequences of our living in an increasingly digital world and the way we communicate and how some people use words to harm others and distribute fear and untruths.

Buy the Mindset CD from Amazon

Buy Mindset on vinyl from Amazon


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