A long hiatus is difficult for bands to navigate. It’s hard to imagine how The Vanities went about things when they returned in 2021 with an album curiously titled 2001. The Welsh duo first formed in the 2000s before they became recluses. Over a decade passed before that changed.

Once they had reunited, the band fitted snugly into the modern wave of wistfully ‘80s-inspired pop/rock – singles like ‘London’ and ‘This Ain’t Love’ would be at home on a Pet Shop Boys record.

Yet with The Vanities’ newest single ‘Private Army’, that wistfulness disappears. Its replacement is darker. Heavily orchestrated, the single forms a desolate assessment of human fallibility. It’s oddly hauntological too; ‘they say it’s touch and go … if we live to see the future that we used to know’ cries Rhys Bradley.

His yelped vocals are a common feature on 2001. Yet in this new context it’s a style that appears altogether eerily novel. Emotionally, he sounds wounded.

However, despite its heart, the song’s boyband balladry is a stark departure from 2001. The heavily orchestrated strings are cinematic but wearing, in equal parts grand and brazen. A willingness to take on this type of songwriting is as commendable as the end product but in this case, the former impresses more than the latter.

Regardless, it’s a remarkably bold release and Bradley’s vocals suit these conditions, making ‘Private Army’ a moment of intrigue. The Vanities are certainly capable of creating something compelling within this style.