POP TALK: The 80’s Called, They Want Their Music Back
I’ve felt like a teenager again these past few months because there have been a flood of iconic 80’s bands releasing new material. Information Society, (one of my all-time favorites), put out their first new album in 20 years; and on the very same day, Erasure also put out a new CD.
Before I review the aforementioned albums, I should also mention the release of not one, but two new records by Prince. I’ve been tempted to break out the Gumby earring and jump Hammer pants first into the bubble gum decade that raised me.
Spoiler alert: All four albums are good. In fact, some of their best works respectively. Prince especially surprised me with his Lenny Kravitz-esque funk feel. (Incidentally, Lenny also released a new album, and it too is a worthy addition to his already hearty catalog).
If you ever wondered why Prince changed his name to a symbol for a few years here, in a nutshell, is the reason. He was feuding with his then record company and refused to give them any more of his music. However, they technically owned his name so he released material on a different label without it until his contract ran out.
One of the two new Prince releases was written and recorded with a new partner in rhyme, 3rdeyegirl, whom I had never heard of but who has clearly been given a high position in the New Power Generation. Their CD, Plectrum Electrum, does not play out like a corny duets album, but instead has an effortless blend of both their talents. The style is all Prince but the addition of 3rdeyegirl adds a valuable and enjoyable layer to his brand of sexually charged songs.
There are moments of pure wisdom as well. I site a line from the song, Aintturninround, where they sing “Maybe the hand you’re looking for is at the end of your arms.”
Most reviewers have preferred the more upbeat and produced Plectrum Electrum, and Lord knows my 80’s ear loves the catchy tunes and bleep blorpy treatments mixed with a healthy dose of solid Prince guitar, but it’s his solo album that I think is the stronger of the two.
Art Official Age is just the sort of random album title I would expect from Prince, and the motif of the third eye is carried through this twin release. Prince explores several different musical styles, but funk and soul seem to be his flavor at the moment. (If his hair is any indication he’s reliving 1979.)
Overall, both albums are strong and fun to listen to. Prince is clearly enjoying his rebirth and only time will tell if the radio stations reward his efforts.
Now on to Erasure’s new CD, The Violet Flame. It’s their 16th studio album which is impressive enough, but when you remember that Vince Clarke also founded Depeche Mode and had a two album career with Alison Moyett as the band Yaz, it becomes down right impressive.
Erasure has embraced the more aggressive production styles of late and their low end is represented well enough to give the kids something to thump in their car stereos (if any kids even know who Erasure is). At times it’s laid back, but at others it sounds more like the violent flame and I’m happy to report that there isn’t a single dud on the entire album.
Andy Bell is in fine voice and it has the best overall flow of all four records. This was of great relief to me because I tend to get very disappointed when good bands produce bad albums. Not this time.
Finally, the longest break between new recordings came from Information Society, whose new collection of songs called, _hello world, has one foot firmly planted in the past while the other is stepping into the future of their music.While there are a few unsuccessful attempts on this album, the eight or so songs that I do like are wonderfully layered and jam-packed with interesting sounds and bold beats. I have always liked Kurt’s vocals, and he doesn’t sound like he’s aged a day. (But the photo on the back of the album shows a trio so ugly they could be honorary members of the Traveling Wilburys).
Many good bands are filled with gargoyles. Yes, for instance should have never included photos of the band members because people kept thinking that they were looking at a team photo of the 1988 Boston Celtics.
Although I skip around from song to song on the new Information Society album, I find myself putting it in more than the others. The music is just that exciting and makes me want to explore more of it. I hope all of these acts receive enough success and encouragement with these new projects to keep them artistically inclined because I would love to hear more from all of them. (And I don’t want to wait another twenty years to do it).
It’s the simple fact that none of these acts tried to re-invent themselves that makes these albums good. They did what they do best and had fun doing it. As a result, I’m having fun listening.
Posted on November 25, 2014, in Morgan Locklear, Pop Talk, Reviews and tagged Erasure, Information Society, Morgan Locklear, Music, New Release, Pop Talk, Prince, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.