I have to say that I haven’t looked forward to an album release from the more mainstream end of the music market for a long time, as much as I have Flashback Romance. Though the word mainstream might not be the best to sum up Lucy Mason’s drifting and sumptuous sonic charms. For although there is a modern indie cool and a contemporary accessibility here that should easily find her lauded in all of the more conventional places and her singles frequent visitors to the charts, that alone isn’t really what sets her apart from the current indie-pop pack.
There is certainly enough, mainly female, artists who have swapped the more solid state sounds of the pop market for the dreamlike and hazy trappings that used to be the unique hallmark of innovators such as Kate Bush and Bat For Lashes. But again Lucy Mason still stands out even in this rarefied company. And it comes down to one vital thing. She has great songs. It’s easy enough to just soften the edges of your pop song, to drape subtle textures over a lazy dance groove but nothing so workaday is going on here.
Flashback Romance is instead filled with memorable tunes, ones that may echo the sound of dream-pop past but which at the same time are building a solid new future. Sunday is a pulsing and minimal ballad, one draped in emotive vocals and spacious beauty, the title track itself a more conventional but no less stunning piano piece and recent single 3am reminds us that whilst looking for the sound of tomorrow she is also more than able to rival the classics of the past.
This is an album built on elegance and eloquence, on space and restraint, on gorgeousness and emotion but holds together through confidence and conviction and in the strength of the songs from their well crafted structure to their gorgeous textures and treatment. There was a time when pop music was as well thought out as any other genre before it become a throw-away sugar rush and an undignified race for position built on style rather than substance. Flashback Romance reminds us that it doesn’t have to be this way.