Secession – “A Dark Enchantment” (1987)

Secession, a mid-1980s Scottish synthpop band, may in an odd way be best known for the work two of its non-original members did after the band broke up.  You see, bassist J.L. Seenan and drummer Charlie Kelly joined Secession in time to be part of the lineup for the band’s only LP, 1987s A Dark Enchantment, and following Secession’s demise the pair joined a duo that Charlie’s brother played in.  That duo later benefitted from having a very famous fan, one who covered their songs and mentioned them in interviews.  That fan was a guy named Kurt Cobain, and the band was The Vaselines.

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So what about A Dark Enchantment?  Well, one would expect the overall mood was being set by the slightly gloomy synth-goth of the instrumental intro “Eventide”, but that’s followed by a classic 1980s hopeful struggle-song, the synth and bass line driven “Promise” (I’ve worked so hard to get this far / Don’t try to take it from me), a number that would be right at home in any one of a few dozen classic 1980s flicks.  But then… then “Sneakyville”.  What is happening here?  The deep male vocals offset by the distant female harmony take everything in a completely different direction, more of a dark dancefloor banger.  That was unexpected.  And then… horns?  “Winifred”, what are you doing to me??  It’s almost like A Dark Enchantment is a label comp, but there’s just enough of a thread to hold it all together as part of one cohesive work.  “Ocean Blue”?  Female vocal dream pop.  The brief instrumental “Reprise (Love Lies Bleeding)”?  A fleeting moment of emotion, 61 seconds of soft interlude.  You just never know what’s waiting for you on the next song.

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