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CD: Claudia Brücken—The Lost are Found

Ex-Propagandists covers album promises so much—can it deliver?

Ah, this starts so well. The idea of Claudia Brücken, arch-Teuton ice queen vocalist from high class synth poppers Act and Propaganda, covering the Bee Gees, Bowie and ELO is just too much fun to ignore. And her version of Julee Cruises “Mysteries of Love” from the Blue Velvet soundtrack is damn near perfect—its lusciously sinister textures just right for her perfectly-controlled deadpanning. The downtempo take on Stina Nordenstams “Memories of a Color” is tasty enough to keep hopes high.

Then, though, Stephen Hagues production starts to get a bit much. Dubstars “The Day I See you Again” is delivered very much in the style of the original, but losing all its delicateness. Covering Bowies 2002 single “Everyone Says Hi” would be a fabulously bold move, were it not that it sounds like New Order circa their awful, awful Get Ready: fizzing with high frequencies, overly busy with session musicians given too much polish and shoved upfront without the creative courage to allow shadows or uncertainty in.

Its not a write-off by any means: the more electronic it gets and the more the tempo drops, the better things sound. So on the versions of the Bee Gees “Whispering Pines” and possibly the Pet Shop Boys finest song “Kings Cross”, the combination of Hagues polished surfaces and Brückens almost digitally smooth voice work as in “Mysteries of Love” to create something that slips and slides around you, drawing you into the song. But elsewhere, the cleanliness—the false pursuit of fidelity in recording—makes it about as enticing as a kitchen showroom. Not a fiasco by any means, and there are some great bits to be cherrypicked, but a shame given how much promise the project has.