Record Review: Annabel Lamb – I Know How Love Goes

A+M Records | UK | 7″ | 1982 | AMS 8240

Annabel Lamb: I Know How Love Goes UK 7″ [1982]

  1. I Know How Love Goes
  2. Electronic Toys

Anyone familiar with singer Annabel Lamb from her first two A+M albums would be possibly slack-jawed after hearing her second single, released in advance of her debut album “Once Bitten” and resolutely non-LP. If anyone is familiar with Lamb, most likely they may have heard her cover of The Doors “Riders On The Storm.” Her dry, almost parched delivery is her calling card in the hard, high-tech productions on those two albums. Not so here!

The A-side is almost insufferably girlish as Lamb sounds like she’s channeling Barbie on this song. Her vocals are full of excessively feminine coos and she’s positively slathering on the lilt that you won’t remember in her vocals. The backing track is almost as saccharine. It sounds like a high-tech parody of lover’s rock with some nifty staccato picked guitar that stands out amid all background whistling and cutesy percussion.

This track would be all but unlistenable were it not the devastatingly mordant lyrics which clearly paint this production as bristling with an almost jagged level of irony. Ms. Lamb and team, are attempting to have their cake and eat it, too. Casual listeners will hear an almost stereotypical, la-de-dah love song of a particularly puerile stripe. Listen carefully, however, and it’s a particularly acid feminist unbraiding of romantic love. I don’t think I’ve heard a song as caustic as this one. She really twists the knife in on this track. There’s no wonder why it remained to be a non-LP A-side as it would have stuck out like a pink, treacly thing on her first album. Or any other of her albums, for that matter!

The B-side begins to approach the Annabel Lamb that came to full flower on the “Once Bitten” album. “Electronic Toys” is a paean to the nascent home entertainment systems of 1982 in an arrangement that begins to point to the sound she would employ on her album, albeit with more than a dash of synth-pop flavoring than the listener would  normally associate with Ms. Lamb. Given the subject matter, it’s not inappropriate.

Her vocals, however, are still more girlish and feminine than the dour chanteuse of tracks like “Heartland” or “Once Bitten.” The parched sprechtgesang she favored on the A+M albums is still nowhere to be heard as the much more conventional side of the still-developing Ms. Lamb’s vocals are on display here. Given that this single, as did its predecessor, failed to trouble the charts to any great extent, it’s not surprising that when the time came for her to record her debut album, a complete rethink of her vocal approach was in order. It’s not that she sings badly; she had excellent pitch on these singles, but her mature style was certainly more striking as well as being completely complementary to the songwriting she brought to the table for that album as well.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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