Consolidating 2 years of solo work, Hard To Please is the debut album by Canadian polymath Sally Dige. First coming to prominence in the synth-wave scene with an elusive, meta-persona in a blur of homemade costumes, Dige’s world has grown to encompass visual art, theatre and design elements. Most surprising on her long-awaited debut however is the occasional removal of the various masks and characters Dige has played to date, revealing something more tangible and fragile underneath.
Hard To Please still revels in a darkly thrilling, Italo-disco pop music, awash with dry ice and hidden in shadow, most personified on the instant classic Immaculate Deception. However, on the long, nocturnal walk home Dige begins to sing of loneliness, being lost, the transience of our relationships. Attention to detail is paramount. On the title-track the crisp early-80s, swooning bass line duets with Dige’s desperate plea to a lover fading into the distance, a presence lamented with even more pathos on the towering, early-4AD-esque, slow-burner Your Girl. It’s a new fragility that effortlessly manages to convey a luxurious, inescapable sensuality at the same time.
Indeed, Hard To Please portrays a clear narrative, with electronic body movers like Doppelganger portraying an out-of control, self-obsessed persona at the beginning of the record, like Liasons Dangereuses fronted by early Madonna. Breaking down into the foggy murk, the more hopelessly romantic album closers A Certain Beauty and Dance Of Delusion burn a ghostly image into the listener’s mind, as Dige, or someone like her, over Cure-like swooning reverberations entreaties the powers that be to let her dance. Dige never fully reveals her hand, but the game is worth playing endlessly.