Before their absurdly huge pop success, Human League had two albums of just being a cool outfit mucking around with synthesizers, drum machines, other weird gear, exploring all the mysterious regions that the new technology was opening up. Dreams of Leaving, found on their second album Travelogue, gets downright epic before it’s done, something to do with closed borders, grudges, maybe just paranoia. It was 1980. There was a lot to worry about.
“The Eurythmics were quite cool at first, a breath of fresh and soulful air in amid all the synth-pop of the early-mid 80s. But by 1987, I’d mostly lost interest … except for Savage, the song in particular. Bitter yet vulnerable, and definitely dangerous, like some 50s movie hard-as-nails beauty losing her looks, maybe resorting to murder, but you couldn’t stop feeling for her. Joan Crawford would have played her. And you probably would have cried at the end even if she deserved everything.” (Philip Random)
In which Yazoo (or perhaps merely Yaz) remind us that in the early days of synth-pop, it was pretty much obligatory that an album include some genuinely experimental side-trips, because why not? But in the case of In My Room, it ends up being way more than just some mucking around with tape loops and sound effects. It’s a smart, soulful examination of angst, loneliness, confusion – all the things that go on in one’s room.
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark being one of those outfits that would be very easy to ridicule (hate even) for their name alone, except they rather lived it up to it. For the first few albums anyway. Architecture & Morality (their third) hit big in the UK, and deserved it, working a cool mix of pop and noise and ambient options, with Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans) managing to do it all in four minutes and change.
In which the synth-pop weirdoes known as Fad Gadget tell a necessary truth: all those beautiful new people out there, they just keep collapsing. And thus the world gets a necessary anthem for that point in time (1984) when all the delightfully extreme fashions and hairstyles of the late 1970s, early 1980s finally collided with the mainstream. And yes, there were victims, innocent and otherwise.