“Rapprocher” – Class Actress

3 stars (out of 5)


Class Actress, aka Brooklyn based singer Elizabeth Harper and producer Mark Richardson’s, debut album could have been released at any time during the peak of the brief, but surprisingly influential, Electroclash movement of 2001-2003. It’s self-conscious, ironic and armed with relentless synths and arch female vocals but unlike the majority of the music released during this period it doesn’t reference cocaine, sunglasses or Frank Sinatra.

Elizabeth Harper is in her own film noir; she’s been to the club, she’s left the bar with The Man and he won’t be there in the morning and this album tries to provide a smudgy, woozy musical imprint of that evening; thing is I’m not sure if we’ll be there for breakfast either. Her vocals are reminiscent of the late 1980s Ze records icon Cristina, all cut-class vowels and a register much deeper than we’re used to hearing from this particular genre; odd Harper’s a Brooklyn girl, she sounds more like an Upper East Side Manhattanite.

‘Rapprocher’ suffers from severe front loading, the first three tracks are the best songs on the album, ‘Love You Like You Used To’ in particular hitting a perfect stride with tense, foreboding synths and Harper’s crystal clear pleading, it’s a pretty intoxicating mix. BPMs barely get above 110 and by track 7 you long to change the pace a little and the song writing begins to suffer greatly. It’s a shame because there’s a great EP here (check out their excellent, slightly rougher around the edges EP that proceeded this album; ‘Journey of Ardency’) and some brilliant, very high quality synth work.

Things do pick up again with the disorientating and interesting ‘Hanging On’ where Harper’s breathless list of  bedtime  favourites really does feel, er, authentic and ‘Bienvenue’ sounds a bit like an electronic, poppier Pretenders but they will need to pull something bigger and more engaging out of the bag song-wise to get the attention they will need in order to make the great album that’s hopefully in them somewhere.

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