It’s all too easy to imagine Personality Cult supporting Flock of Seagulls on a 1984 UK tour, but James Clifford’s solo project adds a post-punk experimental edge and deep-house gloaming to catchy retro synths that would fit right in blasting from a white Thunderbird’s radio.
Clifford’s reverbed baritone vocals grates themes of isolation, uncertainty, and intimacy with a punk’s matter of fact delivery. In “Loose Ends” he confesses “I said I love you but / what do I know?” over pumping percussion and synths and dreams “Will you be the one to turn my blood into wine?” over a tropical house synth-riff in “Sirens.”
Overall, Clifford has control of the instrumental complexity, grounding it in straightforward vocal simplicity. Loose Ends is both dreamy and dancey, with Clifford waving hazy psychedelia and experimental complexity over otherwise upbeat rhythms that would not be all that surprising to find pulsing through an underground nightclub.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: PERSONALITY CULT – PERSONALITY CULT