Never The Right Time (Modern Love, April 16) is Andy Stott’s first release since 2016’s Too Many Voices. In the years since, the world has experienced seismic change, but Stott’s innovative approach is still as sharp as ever. Never The Right Time includes a host of almost-love songs. Halfway to becoming romanticized but still embedded in the thorns and false comfort of nostalgia, its pre-heated electronic slush sits well with a three a.m. haze. Andy Stott is an expert at crafting a cocktail of warm techno and fizzing mutated pop, but Never The Right Time is a record of renewal, risen spirit, and the overriding power of music as a vehicle for change.
All of the tracks flow seamlessly together, and its electronic webwork creates an intimate musical encounter, emanating strong degrees of club-heat while it continues to roll forward. The humane feel to the album’s songs – softer, warmer – allows a feeling of fragility, openness, and vulnerability. The songs could snap at any moment, and some of them do. ‘Repetitive Strain’, for instance, with its rhythmic palpitations and dense melodic strobes, cuts off without warning, its lifeline severed.
On the whole, Never The Right Time has an unfailing warmth at its centre, and the drums still have an energetic snap to them, despite a noticeable melancholia, which drapes itself over the record. It’s hard to move on from something of that magnitude without being pulled back into the tragedy; it can’t easily be forgotten or erased. The Coronavirus pandemic had something to do with this, of course, as Stott found himself in a state of pause. However, growth was occurring even in the stasis. The massive life changes and general turbulence of 2020 triggered a newfound purpose and an explosion of musical creativity, and Stott used it as a force for positivity, directing his flow of thoughts and taking back some semblance of control when nothing else could be controlled. The virus was an outside event which took up the mantle of dictator, changing billions of lives and inflicting suffering on millions, either directly or indirectly.
Together with Alison Skidmore’s warm vocals, the record took on a different form and shape, quickly becoming more human and empathetic, even though it was electronically designed. The record’s emotional messaging ensures a ferocity that’s every bit an equal to a techno-bred, monstrous onslaught – just inhabiting a different body, with a key shift in its tone and mood. It’s slower, more thoughtful, and warmer – perhaps even more appreciative of what it’s been through – while still elevating Stott’s musicianship. Radiating melodies blur with Alison’s vocals, but some of the tracks have more of a bite to them, such as ‘Answers’, which rewinds the clock and serves up healthy slabs of bass-beef.
The black belt beats are still supplied, but it’s the warmth of the record that literally shines through. Containing some innovative angles and surprising emotional hits, Never The Right Time has released at the perfect time, and it never misses a beat.