A duo consisting of singer and guitarist Neil Arthur from Lancashire and keyboard player Stephen Luscombe from Middlesex, Blancmange released a non-charting EP in 1981 titled – with Morrissey-like kitsch wit – Irene and Mavis.
Although it vanished without a trace, ”Stevo” Pearse at Some Bizarre (manager of Soft Cell and The The) was keen enough on their work to invite them to appear on his label compilation in 1981 which took them to the next level.
London Records signed them up and they recorded an album, Happy Families, which appeared in October 1982 and reached #30.
The singles Living On The Ceiling and Blind Vision both made an impact in spring 1983, leading expectations to rise for their second album, Mange Tout, which included all kinds of “experimental angles” (the pretensions of the time, eh?) such as raga elements.
However, what Blancmange will forever be remembered for is their maudlin cover of ABBA‘s The Day Before You Came – a layered, dark slab of miserablism that was way ahead of its time.
Nowadays a cheesy 70s cover is part of many bands’ repertoire, but back then people found it all rather perplexing.
Despite the song’s unexpected popularity (it reached #24 in July 1984), the band were on a downhill slope, and after a late-1985 album, Believe You Me, stalled at #54, it was goodbye from them.
Blancmange reunited in 2011 and released their fourth studio album, Blanc Burn.
Luscombe then left, leaving Arthur as the group’s sole remaining member. Arthur elected to continue recording and performing as Blancmange, with the assistance of session players.
Blancmange continue to tour and record.