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Sunday, August 16, 1998 Published at 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK

Entertainment: New Music Releases


Theaudience: echoes of Blondie and The Pretenders

Sophie Ellis-Bextor was born to be a star.

The daughter of former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis could have enjoyed a lengthy career working with sticky-back plastic and washing-up liquid bottles - thankfully she came to her senses.

Comparisons to Chrissie Hynde are unavoidable. Indeed, if you close your eyes and listen to snippets from the likes of I Know Enough (I Don't Get Enough), you'd swear The Pretenders had become contenders again.

[ image: Sophie gets away from sticky-back plastic]
Sophie gets away from sticky-back plastic
But that's not to say Sophie is a second-rate clone struggling to find her own identity, far from it.

The famous mum thing may have generated extra interest in the band, but they have always had more than enough talent to make it on their own. Now they're about to reap the rewards.

This eponymous debut is crammed with a bevy of bubbling pop songs, none better than the wonderfully-titled A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed, with its bulging bassline and hints of Toni Basil's Mickey.

The equally imaginative Mr Doasyouwouldbedoneby, sees Sophie dealing with a subject familiar to the whole of womankind: "I love him, though he drinks like it's going out of fashion, but it never will," while in Keep In Touch (which has echoes of Sam Brown), she's "a keeper of cages, a slave to your wages".

The album sleeve gives another indication of Theaudience's influences - one they're happy to talk about. The six members (five boys and a girl) are clad in black and stuck on a white background - shades of Blondie's Parallel Lines.

Guitarist Billy Reeves admits: "It's the one band we've all got in common," although filing them under a single category is an impossible job.

If You Can't Do It When You're Young, When Can You Do it? uses the benefit of Hynde-sight once more, Running Out Of Space is The Presidents' Lump and How's That answers its own question by bringing things to a peaceful close with its chilled guitar mumblings.

"It's a pop star's responsibility to be glamorous," Sophie once said, and so she is. Round one to Theaudience - and not a Blue Peter badge in sight.
Chris Charles

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