VIRGINIA WING – ” Private Life “

Posted: February 12, 2021 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
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Fourth album from UK trio finds them pivoting again, this time into Big ’80s R&Bish synthpop, trio Virginia Wing made 2018’s fantastic Ecstatic Arrow under idyllic conditions — in Switzerland at the family home of a good friend, surrounded by the country’s alpine beauty. This one was made stuck at home in Manchester, England in their “jogging bottoms.” There’s no doubt this is the same group, but “Private Life feels forcibly contained while anxious to break free.

All the sounds on “Private Life are big,  the drum sounds, the thick synthy basslines, the blasts of keyboards — not unlike those early Art of Noise records, hitting like punches in a Shaw Brothers martial arts fantasy or a buzzsaw to the hood of a car. But then they fill the stereo field with wondrous, beautiful organic sounds, from delicate strings, to lilting saxophones and flutes, tinkly windchimes, jazzy piano loops, “nature,” and warm harmonies. It all sort of floats, at times almost anchorless, through the mix. These sounds have also been run through severe digital processing, chopped up, degraded, and warped, giving songs a slightly unmoored feel that, like Merida Richards‘ icy vocals, is distinctly Virginia Wing.


Virginia Wing continue to toy with pop and dance music, but largely keep things at arms length. “I’m Holding Out for Something” flirts with a decidedly R&B beat and synth strings that suggest Prince, while pitched up vocal samples may make some think of Kate Bush. But Richards’ declaring “There will come a time when you have to satisfy the ache face to face” yanks the song in an entirely different direction. (Laurie Anderson may be a more apt ’80s comparison.) Likewise, part of “Moon Turns Tides” wants to be an electro funk jam that will tear the roof off, but before that can happen Richards dryly notes, “Whilst you’re here, it’s important that you don’t touch anything / it’s all very, very expensive.” There’s a distinct look-but-don’t-touch sense of detachment — the kind where you end up having more conversations with yourself than other people — that’s a relatable feeling these days when our lives may be too private. If that’s you, welcome to the party.

Virginia Wing are a Manchester based group.

Released February 12th, 2021

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