Album Review: Neneh Cherry & The Thing - The Cherry Thing

6 July 2012 | 5:06 pm | Helen Lear

An unexpected triumph for a reborn ‘80s pop legend.

It's been quite a while since Neneh Cherry took over the charts with hits Buffalo Stance and 7 Seconds, but now she's back with a completely fresh sound that shows a side to her you never knew existed.

Working alongside Nordic free jazz trio The Thing, Cherry's latest collaborative output is pop meets jazz, soul and a bit of hip hop styling to create a mixture of sultry slow numbers and freaky jazz breakdowns. The Cherry Thing is essentially a covers album featuring tracks by Suicide, The Stooges, MF Doom & Madlib and her father Don Cherry with a couple of originals thrown in for good measure.

Cherry's only original, Cashback, which opens the album, warms up your ears with the heavy sound of a double bass before her trademark pop vocals come in. The lyrics are a little odd – “My price tag sell by date/Replaceable like vegetables” – but the entry of crashing drums, sax and a strong chorus seem to make it work.

Too Tough To Die gives Cherry's voice a great workout alongside funky drums and some interesting vocal effects, while softer tracks, Sudden Moment (written by the band's saxophonist Mats Gustafsson) and Dream Baby Dream, create the feeling of floating away on a soft cloud of sultry, sexy saxophone playing along in harmony with the lyrics. A big, somewhat messy breakdown dominates every track however, and is sometimes so full-on it that it overpowers everything else around it.

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What Reason Could I Give is a great way to finish the album with its gentle, delicate beats and vocals that leave you feeling comforted even after the song is finished. An unexpected triumph for a reborn '80s pop legend.