Girl group records and Roy Lichtenstein pictures make a too-familiar cultural couple. The four-colour hand dabbing handkerchief to eye; the switchback between sass and heartbreak – what do they have in common, really? Sentiment, I suppose, but a Lichtenstein is so flat next to a Crystals record. Girl group records — cheap, interchangeable, ridiculous, beautiful — are in one way much more like the comics Roy stole from.

The ‘Facility Girls’ 12″ (don’t bother with the 7″ version) opens with a muffled syndrum version of the ‘Be My Baby’ beat, that trans-genre icon of pop intent. What it then turns into is a girl group record — sung by an androgynous boy — that does run on Lichtenstein’s lines. It’s clinical, distanced, faintly creepy. The song is a portrait of a girl, a secretary, ‘a bright young thing with a promising career’, dreaming of a mechanic – the hint of a sneer, there. We go in closer, the melodies drop out and the comic book frame fills our field of vision, closer yet, the printed dots separating, each one of them a muffled synth pulse as Marc Almond’s voice becomes a murmur and suddenly we’re inside a thought bubble, between the letters. Is it the girl’s, or Marc’s, or her lover’s? It’s an unpleasant, truthful place to be, this bubble, Marc hissing a confession as the music crawls over your skin. ‘You’re everything I like and everything I despise / Why don’t you leave me?’

The song starts up again. The girl goes home and turns out the light. ‘It’s like a page from True Love Stories’ sings Marc, and Lichtenstein would have sympathised. Just one page, however much you might want to turn to the next. Nothing is resolved, which you might say is the difference between Lichtenstein’s art and his sources. But gallery-framed ambiguity sometimes just looks smug: the pop song, on the other hand, is a perfect delivery system for emotional freeze-frames, recasting ambiguities as cliffhangers. ‘Facility Girls’ hovers between these impulses, telling and twisting its sob story simultaneously. Sometimes I think it’s the best thing they ever did; sometimes I just flip to the A Side.