Monday, 7 September 2009

Gala's Tough Love

After 12 years, it turns out Gala's new album Tough Love is devoted to balancing the contradiction contained in that title: the strangely sinister social undercurrent of disapproval is being fought, as well as the advent of love's catering assurance. Her caring discipline acknowledges the euphoria that should not be ignored at all costs.

Returning as a fully-formed update of Gala's past, the singer's sleek and determined androgyny augments her idiosyncratic poetic style and generates an even more rewarding musical landscape that finds inspiration drenched in vintage new york punk and garage disco. Gala soaks up music from all over the world most notably on I'm The World and the crisp psychedelic touches on You & Me, singing forcefully but with grace and amusingly indecent humour. She proposes a new template for relationships, to shatter uptight illusions of what is acceptable for both men and women and tangles herself in compelling scenes of high drama.

The sturdy dry-humper Do It violently jerks inspiration through impulse and grinning compulsion to ruffle feathers. It is even freckled with a sparse sprinkling of electronica throughout the verses, but finds most value from the grudging guitar forced to comply to her scandalously liberal views. Its angular melody creates a tense and visceral beginning: the dynamic fly-swatting lyrics can't resist taking quips such as 'people who don't dream are fucking dangerous' as if stridently taunting ideology-sheep. The album's thorniest melodies are at first challenging, yes, but become remarkably memorable once one has assimilated them.

The intensely vibrant and rabid He's Not A Man makes use of her roaring howl like never before. Her cackling performance triggers a lividly high-strung rant against having 'no guts disease' and fuels the album's most galloping energy. She is on luminous form here, and her ferocious spasmodic inhalations pack as much punch as her message.

Similarly, the hectic hiccuping first single Tough Love was initially a tough call, but my issues with this track have been totally worth it. At first I thought it was just noise for the sake of noise, but Gala demonstrates she does not need predictably glossy studio production to sound great. Instead, Gala really shines in these unsettled settings: 'you kill me my love' is tormented and her embroiled emotion thrives on such extreme poetry. The punchy brass and excited Nina Hagen intonations are more of a foil for her extroverted pop leanings of which delightfully prove to be superficially frivolous.

Gala smartly straddles between her new revitalised garage-disco and highly effective dance beats. Retaining her 2005 Greek top 5 comeback single Faraway, the creamy and smooth rnb production is at first slinky and positively melts like balm, but Gala's yelping chorus is stoic and tribal. Her predatory stance is a hybrid of lush, soft, angered and sharp emphasizations that are never hesitant to fully commit loyalty for a lover still haunting her - lyrically it is Let A Boy Cry la parte due.

DKOL's chuggingly flurried lust and bristling intent restores Gala's faith and luster: her gutsy vocal burns brighter than a bonfire; and social doctrines meet her sultry derision in a full on collision between desire, angst and guilt. Her lyrics gain arresting control and her beguiling mystery ignites with storming vigour. Those unwavering vocals glare and are delightfully upfront and tuneful. On this forthright rocker the singer dares her lover to declare a statement of social acceptance.

Her echoing yelp cries out to the global village on I'm The World, an insouciant groove appeals and speeds up. More of a mood peice than a genuine anthem, but 'feel its boom boom in your soul' is part of its likeable enthusiasm.

The slow-rising crooner Crying carefully emphasizes Gala's defiant hurt and its understated whim gives one time to breathe as her vocal dramatics take a back seat. A hidden talent for shin-grazing ballads sprouts out from nowhere, and 'you'll be crying, crying like you should' unearths tender humour juxtaposed with whirlpool piano keys and jazzy bassline thumbing the bruises.

An unexpected 'un-remix' of Freed From Desire really should not have a place here, and yet its disco-grunging grind is a fine update, not least with handclapping encouragement. Her signature anthem is explicity re-worked in order to achieve full control of her music. Whilst covering all bases, Gala simply retains her footing here.

The pouty truculence of I See Through You has plate-smashing melodrama embroidered into the stacatto piano keys. Screaching 'I just got my shit together' is ruefully hilarious and indignant. And a dance beat. with her bombastic excesses, it's neurotically humourous and ultimately enjoyable. an enthralling Italian interjection proves her as a highly adept dramatic performer.

Just when you think she can't slow down, the danceable ballad You & Me is Gala's masterpiece. One has to look out their window just to be reminded it's not 1980. It is the most effective presentation of her songwriting. The talented Italian chanteuse ascends to dizzying heights and yet it is remarkably the most tranquil song on the whole album. The rusty high-pitched guitar riff has the same rich texture as Siouxsie & The Banshees' Hong Kong Garden, which it vividly pays tribute to. Her singing is excellent on this track, with particular success as she wails into the sunset with weightless energy.

The swaggering No Doubt style scenario on Number 3 is almost too enforced for its own good, but her discordant delivery proves to be her grappling secret weapon, just about pulling it off. Not the album's brightest spot, it might be difficult to recommend, but it still fulfills her unique pedigree of abrasively eccentric romance.

She works up a sweat on the slitheringly septic-sounding proposal She Really Wants To Try It, with devouring vocals going insidiously in for the kill to inaugurate an inexperienced lover. Sharp steam plumes of percussion trumpet at intervals, signalling someone's buttons being pressed or rather coming undone. Gala licks her gums in macho pursuit - her mezmerising narration is lurid, lubricated and trashy, but is enticingly galvanising and indicates a distictively rewarding ending. Try it yourself.

Tough Love complies exactly as outlined: songs of adroit structure, emphatic tempo and untamed passion. Her strong-willed persona and proposition of unbridled glamour are truly staggering. Gala's long-awaited comeback exceeds all expectations, and her gutsy style achieves intoxicating results that will impress neophytes and fans starving for new material alike.

The new album Tough Love is available on worldwide iTunes now.


Unknown said...

What a brilliant review! I love Gala and can't wait to check out her album. Do you know if it's being released physically anywhere?

Diva Incarnate said...

I'm finding out for you Mark, and thanks very much:-)

Anonymous said...

I wish she would do proper dance music again I liked the you and me song lots but something like Freed From desire or Let a boy cry would have been amazing. She looks great and a few of the songs are fabulous but just 2 or 3 dance songs would have been all that was needed.

Christine said...

I love it and think tough love is hardly that much diferent from the first album. its just better actually - her hits stand out but, this is the stronger album!

great review xox

Diva Incarnate said...

Oh an update regarding the physical - apparantly that is in the works.

If so, I would expect maybe extra tracks, remixes are wanted so they would be welcome if treated properly, and those videos would be mighty nice to see on a TV.

Diva Incarnate said...

Regarding the 'proper dance' angle, was Gala ever a conventional dance artist? To me, not being one was what gave her such androgynous mistique.

Freed From Desire was originally nothing like the single version and I suspect Gala merely accomodated this with the single edit of Come Into My Life and Let A Boy Cry was simply another home run.

This album does have dance elements: You & Me has a dance-pop beat and She Really Wants To Try It is far more confrontational than say La Roux's face-pulling yelps.

I do with we could have the same alluring 'dance' tinges like the ones motoring Let A Boy Cry for instance. In their absence, this old association with Gala seems deliberately avoided - whereas the passion on I See Through You completely casts my minds back to some of the melodrama and artwork of her debut, I would dearly have loved just ONE track to synge my ears with the same vividly glamorous pulse as the unforgettable Freed From Desire musicality.

I think the album is stunning, but not everyone who fondly remembers Gala loved her from the album she released two years ago, with its same surprising variety and scope, instead the expectation of something to have evolved from Desire leaves this majority still craving the release.

Anyway, I'm just glad it is out there and that her youtube clips are as captivating as ever.

Diva Incarnate said...

well I messed that reply up - I meant the album she released 10 not 2 years ago!