Cards on the table, I’ve been procrastinating over this review. I have no idea how to write about a cult Manchester band, probably at the top of their game, with five decades of pioneering music under their belts. The truth is I’ll be listening to and pondering over this album for a long time, and in about five years I might have an informed opinion worth reading.

However, I have a job to do and if the opening paragraph didn’t put you off then here’s my input. New York street photographer Bruce Gilden once said that what makes a good photographer is someone who knows what’s been done in the past, learns from it, builds on it and then makes it their own. Musically, this is what ACR have mastered.

At no point on this album will you be able to predict what’s about to come next. Manchester rapper Chunky? Yes. Beautiful neo soul vocals from new band member Ellen Beth Abdi? Yes. Eccentric, wistful, electronic delights? Yes. Incredibly funky riffs? Oh yes.

Defy yourself. Don’t let your mind take the spark from your life. Let go of doubt. Freedom and motion know no bounds.’ Sound advice from a band living in the moment. Interestingly, Bruce Gilden might have said the same thing.

The album ends with ‘Ballad of ACR’, an emotional track with an incredible jazz section and a beautiful and personal tribute to Denise Johnson.

I’ll be at ACR’s gig in Manchester later this month, where my education and pondering will continue… maybe see you there?

A Certain Ratio’s new album ‘1982’ is out now on Mute and available on all streaming platforms.


20 April – EdinburghVoodoo Rooms

21 April – HuddersfieldThe Parish

22 April – ManchesterNew Century Hall

23 April – LeedsBrudenell

25 April – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms

26 April – BirminghamHare & Hounds

27 April – BristolThe Exchange

29 April – LondonThe Garage

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Review by Breige Cobane

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