The return of Holly Johnson has floored many pop pickers, who couldn’t imagine what the cute little boss-eyed Liverpudlian had to offer the world aside from an over-ambitious voice and a nice line in rubber cycling shorts. ‘Blast’, featuring the joyous 45s ‘Love Train’ and ‘Americanos’, proves Holly has a perfect grasp on the components that go to make the very best pop music.
‘Blast’ blasts off with a take-no-prisoners, Green epic entitled ‘Atomic City’, in which Holly bemoans the loss of the ozone layer in exchange for money and ‘process’. A bombastic and rather pompous entrance, but probably a blessing that it wasn’t used as some kind of climactic closer. ‘Atomic City’ raises an iron curtain on nine flashy, funny, good-natured pop songs that have sunlight shining out of every orifice. ‘Heaven’s Here’ is a glistening fountain of loveliness and, following on from the glittery suit of ‘Americanos’ and the beach towels of ‘Deep In Love’. ‘S.U.C.C.E.S.S.’ pokes two fingers in the eyes of Sigue Sigue Sputnik and their ‘Sex, Fun, Failure’ formula.
Side two pulls out of the sidings with ‘Love Train’, a celebratory love song that boasts the broadest smile ever to grace the charts. ‘Got It Made’ slips up another gear to become the obvious choice for the next single (along with most of this LP, to be honest), then back down into second for ‘Love Will Come’, a slowie with an itchy accelerator foot. ‘Perfume’, which follows, is a clever stab at funky brass, which is less ‘1999' than it is ‘Sussudio’, but then Holly is more Phil Collins than he is Prince.
The laconic, graceful ‘Feel Good’ puts ‘Blast’ to bed, continuing the album’s recurring in-love-with-love theme. As the song fades, the urge is to go back to the beginning for a re-run of a record that likes itself as much as it likes you. A blast is indeed what it is. ☆☆☆☆