Personnel: Lizzy Mercier Descloux (vocals, background vocals); Greg Jiritano (guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar); Stuart Gordon (violin, viola, cello); Kim Burton (accordion); Constanza Burg (bass clarinet); Tim Sanders (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Bernie Clarke (piano, organ, keyboards); Julian Lindsay (keyboards); Bruce Smith (drums); Geoffrey Scantlebury (percussion); Marilyn Davis, Sandy McLelland (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: John Brand.
Audio Remasterer: John Baldwin .
Recording information: Fire House, London; Georgetown Studio, Sutton Courtenay; Loco Studio, Walles.
Photographer: Gilles Cappé.
After swinging from no wave experimentalism to internationalist grooves on her first four albums, Lizzy Mercier Descloux was asked to do something new on LP Number Five: deliver a sure-fire hit. Released in 1984, Zulu Rock produced a surprise hit single in Europe, "Mais oú Sont Passées les Gazelles?," but EMI Records wanted bigger returns for her fifth album, especially after the critical and commercial disappointment of 1986's One for the Soul. Mercier Descloux was credited as co-producer on 1988's Suspense, but the real overseers of the project were Mark Cunningham (who Lizzy knew from her days on New York's no wave scene when he was a member of MARS) and John Brand (who had previously worked with Aztec Camera, the Waterboys, Magazine, and Gene Loves Jezebel), and they delivered Mercier Descloux's most polished work. Suspense is a work of slick Eurocentric pop that sounds very '80s, from the popping basslines and cracking drum sounds to the jangling guitars and trademark synth patches. The horns and Latin percussion glance to the flavors of Mercier Descloux's previous work, and Kim Burton's accordion work adds a welcome Parisian flair, but despite it all this is Lizzy's least musically interesting album. However, in spite of this, Mercier Descloux's vocal work is excellent on Suspense, and she rarely sounded as confident and emphatic as she does on this material, especially on the French-language numbers, where she seems to be truly in her element. It's a shame that Suspense proved to be the last album Lizzy Mercier Descloux would release in her lifetime -- for all its flaws, it shows that she continued to grow and mature as a vocalist even in less than inspired surroundings, and if it had been a hit, the success could have earned her the chance to do something more idiosyncratic. ~ Mark Deming