Shadow Party boast members of New Order, Devo, Marion and Bad Lieutenant in their ranks. Nick McCabe of The Verve, Denise Johnson of Primal Scream, LA-based DJ Whitney Fierce, and arranger Joe Duddell, all also contribute to their self-titled debut album. The mix of personnel is certainly intriguing. Bassist Tom Chapman had one of the most challenging jobs in modern rock: filling the shoes of bass legend and larger-than-life Mancunian Peter Hook when he finally walked away from New Order in 2011.
Chapman brings his experience and extensive contacts to Shadow Party and is joined by fellow New Order member Phil Cunningham on guitars and keyboards, plus Devo members Josh Hager on lead vocals and drummer Jeff Friedl. It kicks off with the euphoric Celebrate, which did the viral rounds with a very pleasant football-themed video at the height of England’s World Cup fever, and lest we forget, New Order are pretty good at that sort of thing.
The other lead single, Present Tense, is a much weaker link, despite the best efforts and talents of Denise Johnson. In addition to working with A Certain Ratio, Johnson was in Primal Scream from 1990 to 1995. Johnson cowrites and duets on Present Tense, which is a reasonable tune and a bit of a bitter-sweet grower, but it is simply not strong enough to elevate Shadow Party to the same league as their past and present projects.
The best on show here is Marigold, which sparkles because it sounds like the album’s most unforced and organic track. When you read on a press release that a band have recorded their debut in Boston, LA, Manchester and Macclesfield, it raises the suspicion that perhaps they’re trying a little too hard. Marigold is a good example of how good they can be when they kick back and discover the magic.
The four piece have recorded an album, with guests including Denise Johnson (Primal Scream) and The Verve’s guitarist Nick McCabe. It’s said to have a synth-pop vibe, with strings and guitars.