To call Fuse Everything But the Girl’s first album in 24 years is to downplay everything the husband-and-wife duo of Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn have been busy with since—the partial sum of which includes seven solo albums, three children, five memoirs, and three record labels. “We were very much on our separate tracks until the pandemic,” Watt tells Apple Music. “When things started getting back to normal, we both realized we had been changed a lot by the whole experience, and wondered if a change and a new direction could be a good idea.” But for as much of a contextual shift as the project might’ve been for Watt and Thorn personally, their music has always been both of its time and slightly out of it in ways that make Fuse feel as singular and natural as anything they’ve done before. Certain tracks bear obvious markers of the 2020s, whether it’s the 2-step beat of “Nothing Left to Lose” or Thorn’s duet with her eerily Auto-Tuned self on “When You Mess Up.” But others—like the quiet desperation of “Run a Red Light” or the after-hours bliss of “No One Knows We’re Dancing”—tap into the same small, oblique sophistications that have driven their music since before they discovered drum machines. “We had more time on our hands and more with each other,” Watt says of making their first record together since 1999’s Temperamental. “Tracey just said, ‘Maybe now is the time; if not now, then when?’ When we began—after the first tentative steps—we realized we still had so much in common. A common language. A love of economy, direct emotion, space.” Here Watt and Thorn talk through the album, track by track. “Nothing Left to Lose” Tracey Thorn: “This was the last track we wrote and recorded. I think we could only do it once we had got our confidence levels up. We were buzzing off the tracks we had already done, and thought we just needed one more to really nail it. When Ben put the backing track together, with that beat and the heavy tremolo bass and loads of space for my vocal, it felt like a nod to our past but fresh. It was so atmospheric and it inspired this really raw, heartfelt lyric.” “Run a Red Light” Ben Watt: “We were a few songs into recording when one evening I played Tracey some songs I’d demoed a few years back. This was one of them, and Tracey picked it out immediately, saying, ‘That is a killer song, you must let me sing it.’ The ‘run a red light’ lines only appeared once, as a coda at the end, but we turned it into the chorus instead and sang the lines together, with my vocal heavily Auto-Tuned so that it has a bit of what Mark Ronson calls that ‘sad robot’ quality. The lyric is a portrait of the kind of guy I often met at the end of the night during my DJ days, the guy who thinks he just needs one break and he could turn everything around.” “Caution to the Wind” TT: “It’s quite an unusual track for us in that it’s house tempo but almost euphoric. Usually we inject sadness into this musical mood, but this one has a proper celebratory lyric: the stars, the sky like a cathedral, the idea of a person coming home, and throwing caution to the wind, demanding to get close to someone. The ‘caution to the wind’ lines made me think of Stevie Nicks while I was singing them. It’s got a slight ravey Fleetwood Mac vibe to it—big tom fills and floaty scarves.” “When You Mess Up” BW: “This was the first song we wrote together since 1999. I had recorded a series of piano improvisations on my iPhone—just playing, without imagining I was writing a song, trying to free myself from any pressures and expectations. And using slightly unusual chord voicings, 4ths and 6ths, etc. Tracey wrote this lyric about how that transitional stage between middle age and the future reminds you of all the tension and uncertainty of being young. But she’s trying to be forgiving of herself, saying, ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself, we all mess up, life is difficult.’ We messed around a bit with Tracey’s vocal on some of the lines, pitching it higher, bending its tone, so it sounds like a little devil on her shoulder, or some internal voice digging at her.” “Time and Time Again” TT: “This is the kind of song where you can’t quite tell which is the verse and which is the chorus, it’s more circular than linear. The lyrics are about someone looking at a friend who can’t get out of a relationship, imagining that at some point they’re gonna have to come and save them. Ben and I are singing together on the verses, really nice downbeat kind of vocals. And then my voice is sped up again and used as a kind of effect in the middle section. The feel reminds us a bit of our earliest forays into electronic music in the ’80s, where some tracks on Idlewild were inspired by Jam & Lewis productions, that pop/R&B vibe of the time.” "No One Knows We’re Dancing” BW: “The lyric is a kind of homage to Lazy Dog, the club night I ran in Notting Hill with Jay Hannan for several years from the late ’90s onwards. It took place on Sundays, starting in the afternoon and ending at midnight, and the song captures—with a bit of added color—some of the regulars who turned up or people who worked there. It’s about that secret, self-enclosed world of the club, magnified by this sense that you’re down in the dark basement dancing at 5 pm, while outside in the street normal life is just going on, and the sun is blazing. Ewan Pearson added some extra synth and drum programming, and it turned into a real dubby Italo-disco vibe.” “Lost” TT: “This was an early piece of music that Ben had created, recording it at home during lockdown. A hypnotic, arpeggiated repetitive cycle of a song. He had typed the words ‘I lost…’ into Google and followed all the suggestions which came up to create the lyric: I lost my mind, I lost my bags, I lost my perfect job. It seems quite random and almost detached, but then you are hit by the line ‘I lost my mother’ and you realize that it is about loss of all kinds, and how it hits you. I then improvised singing another set of lyrics as a kind of counterpoint in the background, and they are exhortations not to give up in the face of loss, to keep going, and not to call yourself a loser.” “Forever” BW: “This was the first track on this project where I added a four-on-the-floor beat, and I remember Tracey running into the room going, ‘I like this!’ But it isn’t really a dance track, and we quite like that. It’s got quite a dark, pulsing arpeggiator going through it, and a kind of intense mood. The lyrics are about trying to work out what’s important—letting go of game playing and time wasting, trying to work out who’d be there for you in a crisis…as the lyric says, ‘When everything burns down.’” “Interior Space” TT: “This started as another one of Ben’s piano improvisations, and is layered up with a sonic landscape of drones and swooshes and a field recording our engineer Bruno had made of a beach in Wales while on holiday with his family. It also features some of the only guitar on the album from Ben. My vocal is heavily treated so it sounds like the inside of my head, woozy and psychedelic, a little bit out of it. The lyric is about not understanding yourself, feeling unknowable, and the arrangement tries to dramatize that feeling, make it vivid and real.” “Karaoke” BW: “A slow empty groove to end the album—distorted organ, CS-80, West Coast Moog. The verse lyrics are about a trip I made to a karaoke bar in San Francisco some years ago. The early evening was fairly humdrum, then the regulars arrived and a woman sang Jennifer Hudson’s ‘Spotlight’ and brought the house down. It inspired Tracey to add the chorus lyrics, which introduce another idea into the song, asking, ‘What is singing for? Do you sing to heal the brokenhearted or get the party started?’ Both, is the obvious answer.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada