Altered Images: Mascara Streakz review – Clare Grogan is reinvented as a retro disco diva

As a teenager, Clare Grogan started out as a left-field Siouxsie type, became a colourful, ribbon-wearing pop star and memorably starred in Gregory’s Girl. Now, Altered Images’ first album in (gulp) 39 years reinvents her again, as a retro-modern disco diva. Picking up where the shimmering Don’t Talk to Me About Love left off in 1983, this is 80s-influenced electropop given a contemporary polish.

Other original members are long departed, and Grogan wrote with her husband Stephen Lironi, who joined Altered Images in 1982, songwriter Robert Hodgens (AKA Bobby Bluebell) and Bernard Butler, working around his kitchen table. Grogan has called Mascara Streakz her most personal album and the dozen tracks explore life’s ups and downs, glimpsing the heartbreaks behind the glamour.

The giggly teen has transformed into a mature woman, but Grogan’s voice is stronger now, powering Colour of My Dreams and Home, big-chorused anthems about survival and disappointments. The title track and sparkly Glitter Ball celebrate nightlife and – as Bryan Ferry put it – dancing away the heartache. Chic-like guitar and bass drive the funky Changing My Luck, while Double Reflection knowingly references New Order’s Blue Monday.

Amid some formulaic tracks, Your Life Is Mine is a welcome and superb curveball, Grogan’s darker tale of “an ocean of tears, the fury of the years” delivered over Cocteau Twins-type shimmering guitars.