Sunday, April 08, 2007

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out...

The 1980s haven't generally been held in particularly high musical regard for the last fifteen years or so, but it would be very wrong indeed to deny their existence.
For one thing the decade had its indubitable highlights - even if they were sometimes accompanied by miserablist lyrics, such as those of the track of the title of this post - taken from The Smiths 1986 album "The Queen Is Dead". Although I never much cared for their music at the time, sure as hell it was to prove an incredibly influential combination that released four albums of which this was the third. Stephen Patrick Morrissey wrote the lyrics for the most part while Johnny Marr kept the whole show from drowning itself in melancholy by dint of his inspired, and actually amazingly (before such things were really recognised as such) pop-hooked guitar parts. In fact their influence has if anything increased exponentially with the passage of time.

Another thing that makes the 1980s interesting again is that it is the last decade that current teenagers can't actually remember at all - and that in itself means that it is worth a retrospective if only so those of us who can are able to say "I told you so." with a meaningful degree of authority! Perhaps even more interesting still is that some of the bands spearheading the revival are also too young to remember it first time around, so they are able to take a fresh look at what it had to offer and just how best to interpret it twenty years later. Like all decades the 1980s didn't begin or end with the simple turning of calendar pages, but took influences from the preceding one and then ceded its own to the next.

If Debbie Harry were thirty-something years younger and happened to have black hair, which would however have admittedly missed the point of the 'Blondie' image, she [and the band for that matter] might now have looked like this...

For those of us old enough to remember, or even perhaps own, Blondie vinyl releases, or young and dedicated enough to still have the energy to search them out in flea-ridden second-hand record stores, the evidence in the artwork only becomes more compelling.

Written, with Georgio Moroder, for the film American Gigolo this was a huge hit in 1980.

Thinking along "
Parallel Lines" the image below, adapted from the artwork of the US release, is the proof in black and white.

The band is Stefy and the four-piece hail from Orange County, CA (the real life OC but the fourth track on the album seamlessly blends the real thing with its small-screen alter ego) and is signed to US independent Wind-up Records, whose byline is the almost too-cheesy-to-be-true 'developing career artists' and their d├ębut The Orange Album was released in the US in late 2006.
Their first single
Chelsea, a light-hearted and very catchy blast through early 1980s electro synth-pop territory, is out now in the UK and The Orange Album will be released here a fortnight tomorrow (23rd April - and distributed by Sony BMG) .
It is a timely reminder that the 1980s were also great fun musically and I for one can't wait...

...luckily I don't have to!

It might not be genre changing - and perhaps that is actually why it is so appealing - but if you hanker after more "new 1980s reminiscent pop electronica" then I suggest the following:

Client and their new album Heartland; it is gloriously unreconstructed but, very unusually, sung and played by an all female threesome 'Client A' , 'Client B' and 'Client E'. They are something like The Pipettes, and the circumstances of their formation are not so dissimilar, but they play and sing rather than sing and dance. Their influences are also quite firmly rooted in the music of twenty years later!
Dragonette (also www.dragonette.com) is an equally valid contender and the first single "I Get Around" is lead vocalist Martina's utterly wanton, yet also quite inadvertent, electro-pop riposte to Nelly Furtado/Timbaland's multi-million selling 2006 US #1 single "Promiscuous".
They aren't doing too badly for a Toronto couple that met randomly just over a year ago at a gig in their home city. They married four months later and, in the meantime,
decided that London might just serve their joint musical ambition better! They soon recruited the other two band members once they arrived in the UK and it seems to have worked out quite well. For most of April they are on tour as the main supporting act for Sugababes - the biggest selling UK female act of the 21st century.