Marsheaux – Peeka Boo

Just a little over a decade ago, the second album from Greek synthpop duo Marsheaux was unleashed on the world. After the understated pop of E-Bay Queen (2004), it really came out of nowhere. If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to Marsheaux before, this is well worth tracking down.

It starts with some gentle synth murmurs, which grows a little to become Hanging On. By the chorus, it’s up there with some of the great electronic pop songs of history. Second track Wait No More is even better – it’s catchy, melancholic, and you could name hundreds of eighties acts who are being chanelled here.

There is, to use that awful term, a degree of “retro” here, and not just in the analogue synth sounds – the songs are a couple of decades behind schedule as well. But that’s far from a bad thing, and there’s still a freshness in the sounds and simple female vocals that make it stand out.

There are thirteen tracks on here, and with the perplexingly mis-spelt No Sence and the glorious cover of The Promise, it quickly cements itself as one of the finest synth albums of its era.

It’s worth a mention for the packaging, and ingenious although apparently ineffective marketing ploy, which unfolds into a large purple paper bag with eye holes, and instructions were provided by the record company to purchasers that they were to share photos of themselves with it on their head. Which is surely every bit as creative as anything anyone has come up with before.

What’s really surprising is that it doesn’t really get boring. It has its lower points, of course, but City of Lights leads to the fantastic Dream of a Disco – which absolutely should have been a huge hit single – and you realise you’re pretty much half way through the album already.

What a Lovely Surprise is good too, although quite what the relevance of the line about “fairies do not exist” might be is a bit of a mystery. But there are enough songs on here that you do start to forget which is which after a while. Home and What You Don’t Like are great, but Love Under Pressure is the one later track that really stands out, with its grimy disco vibe (yes, I said “vibe”).

Then comes People’s Mind, which might have been a b-side if there had actually been any singles, perhaps on the back of the next track, a great cover version of New Order‘s Regret. It’s not especially new, or different, but if nothing else it’s a worthwhile reminder that it’s a great pop song.

The last track is Heaven, full of subdued drum sounds and low pads. It’s an entirely suitable closing track to a brilliant album. The only downside now, ten years on, is the knowledge that little Marsheaux has done since gets anywhere close to being this good. But if you’re looking for that one synthpop album full of great pop songs and maybe some Mediterranean charm (don’t laugh – you might be) this is definitely it.

You can find Peeka Boo in a double-pack with debut album E-Bay Queen, still widely available.

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