Everything But the Girl: Fuse review – sleek, downtempo charms

Twenty-four years ago, Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt shut up shop as Everything But the Girl, turning down a U2 stadium support slot to focus on having a family. Three (now adult) children later – not to mention a slew of solo albums, and some well-received memoirs – comes their 11th album, a timely reiteration of the duo’s charms. The ongoing 90s revival suggests those charms will not fall on stony ground.

Although many of their musical heirs have often combined shuffly beats and plaintive vocals to numbingly polite effect, there remains something intriguingly individual about EBTG’s sleek, ache-filled offering. On lead single Nothing Left to Lose, Thorn’s voice is instantly recognisable, as though no time had passed, while Watt’s production puts the duo’s downtempo beat appeal front and centre.

Further in, Thorn’s voice turns more lived-in and husky which, coupled with unexpected incursions of pitch-shift and Auto-Tune, suggest a pugnacious desire not to remain preserved in amber. Standouts such as Run a Red Light and No One Knows We’re Dancing provide clubland demimonde vignettes, while a number of expansive, impressionistic sound-beds allow for more matter-of-fact lyrics about loss (Lost) and cutting oneself some slack (When You Mess Up). Less memorable are the songs – like Caution to the Wind - where the two coast pellucidly along.