Elizabeth Harper should be every guy’s dream: a smoky-eyed, high-cheekboned Brooklyn girl who knows exactly what she wants and isn’t afraid to let you know. Unfortunately, what she desires most are her ex-boyfriends, and she wants them in the sound world of 1982. Such is the new-wave cycle of longing and regret that is Rapprocher, the second full-length by Class Actress. Aided by producers Mark Richardson and Scott Rosenthal, vocalist Harper is engulfed by the same keyboard and synth-drum sounds that once belonged to the Human League and early Depeche Mode. (If you peer closely into Class Actress’s tangle of pre-MIDI synth cables, you can even see the visage of former Depeche Mode keyboardist Vince Clarke.) Harper might be awash in the music, but her steely-cold, calm vocals never fail to deliver the message to exes: “Love me like you used to”; “I wanna keep you in my heart”; “You’re gonna miss me so bad.” In the same way that Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” takes on a slightly sinister tone due to its synth-pop sheen, Harper’s songs can make her seem a bit stalker-ish and intriguingly unhinged. Even when she sings a chorus of “Bring it on, bring on the weekend” (on standout track “Weekend”), it doesn’t sound anything like the Black Eyed Peas — it sounds like she may have intentions of harming a family pet come Saturday afternoon. Which, in its own way, makes Harper way more interesting than her idol, Madonna. Who needs well-adjusted, thoroughly modern pop stars, anyway?
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