THE LILAC TIME is the band of Stephen Duffy. He was a founding member of Duran Duran but left before they became the Wild Boys (now wild haired old men) of pop. He had a dalliance with the charts solo with “Kiss Me” and was once “Tintin”, but Herge had the Gaul to make him drop his stage middle name. He recorded a song with Blur’s cheese-meister Alex James until he realised he was a Tory.
His band with brother Nick, The Lilac Time have despite releasing nine albums since 1987, including on Creation Records, been largely operating under the radar, self-consciously so. That’s not to say that their avant-folk isn’t laced with pop sensibilities and dreamy possibilities.
Last year they put out “No Sad Songs” on Germany’s Tapete Records, perhaps a missive directed at The Guardian’s assertion that he was the “unluckiest man in pop history who hasn’t actually died”.
Now with a beautiful re-working of album track “Prussian Blue”, this is a pop song with lyrics of which any Guardian subeditor would be jealous, starting with the killer couplets “Diaphanous friendships/In transparent splendour/Icons in infancy”.
And how many tunes include the phrase “vituperative memories”. There are enough words for the day to last a good month, and I for one shall be trying to interweave these nuggets through forthcoming conversations. I thought that Paul Smith of Maximo Park was the master wordsmith of our times, but I never anticipated Stephen Duffy to supersede him in 2015.
The reference to “our lilac emperor” is to Stephen & band mate and wife Claire’s daughter, and when the words discuss making a film and hand-tinting it “Prussian Blue” this is an arty love song with no filter but plenty of class.
RATING: UNMITIGATED BLOCKBUSTER SUCCESS FOR ARTHOUSE POP BAND