Cedric Pin and Glen Johnson (both of Piano Magic) accurately self-describe this music as being "calculated at home." They're joined by Dan Matz from Windsor for the Derby on vocals for "Bright Lights & Wandering" where the territory and dynamics of the entire album are established: a machine-like contemplation of the paradoxical human need for both acceptance and individuality. The piece is twice as long as it needs to be but the sound sparkles and the words are as bleak as if their square root were the line "Why is the bedroom so cold? You've turned away on your side." "Broken Robots" starts and ends with all the fizz and throb of something much more current, namely Mr.Quintron from his Bulb period. Cooing vocals are complemented by a spoken passage laying out the inability of graphs and charts to plot a course through love. Doubtless, someone is working on it.
"Substance Fear" crams more references into a few minutes than seems decent. It overcomes the obstacles of a beginning that is a bit too close to New Romantic pop, a wooden and grating line about "the restlessness of Kerouac", and obvious echoes of Pet Shop Boys, to pack a punch. At one point, clear echoes of "Blue Monday" can be heard, and a section all-too-briefly (and probably by accident) recalls Alex Harvey's "Faith Healer" before a rush of spoken narrative and swirling electronics eventually give way to a passage of bass playing that could be Hook, line and sinker.
"The Last Engineer" recalls the political economy of the UK during Factory's heyday, a period which saw the wholesale destruction of the mining and manufacturing industries by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party. As Prime Minister she was determined to remove rights and political influence from working-class people by destroying the power of their economic unions. Despite Mrs. Thatcher's mantra of the infallibility of market forces, she dramatically intervened in that market to close mines and import coal at a higher cost. She infamously declared that "there is no such thing as society" and a quarter of a century later her words ring out like a hideous self-fulfilling prophecy. As there has been no future recovery for the communities in question, she, not Manchester, has so much to answer for. Repetitive throbs contrast with the sounds of a telephone ringing and an underground train. Glen Johnson sings "I've felt alone since the '80s/I think it's misunderstood/ They may have shut down the coal mines/But the music was good".
The highlight of We Don't Just Disappear, "Crying's what you need," is a bona fide classic-by-numbers: dreamy bubbling beats a la OMD; a backwash of synth, Angele David-Guillou’s perfectly smooth utterances of gritty realism; a sliver of faux-Augustus Pablo harmonium; and the use of the word "whilst." It is a manifestation of the scientific theory that people keep unresolved memories longer than things which have been concluded. The notion that "there's nothing romantic in being alone" may be debatable, but the track exhibits a stark sense of emotional void, a caring sweetness, and just the right amount of humor and pathos:
"Somebody told me you never got over/The last girl that kissed you, though she was much older/ …She'd lived through The Smiths… and she knew how to kiss……She was in libraries and you were in college/ She stacked up the shelves whilst you racked up your knowledge/ She archived the Greats/ As you drank with your mates..."