Fairlight Children are one of those bands that seem to have fallen through a crack in time, in this case from about mid-1984. Air-conditioned synth-pop is the order of the day, in other words, and that’s in the way of being both a bonus and a liability with me. On the one hand, I love this type of music, but on the other, as a result of that love, my expectations are high. My gold standard is Pet Shop Boys, the finest songwriting duo techno-pop has produced. The lower end of the scale is represented by one hit wonders like Visage’s “Fade To Grey,” with Holly Johnson’s solo career somewhere in the middle.
Fairlight Children have aspects of all three, but as much as they feel right up my alley new wave-wise, they are also, in some ways, like the kind of nice-looking boy/girl with whom we never quite fall in love. But you can still have quite a lot of fun with someone you don’t love, and there are two or three candidates for great “lost” new wave-era singles on this flawed but well-crafted, smoothly produced disc.
The title song fiendishly samples a child repeating that title; it’s one of about three mostly-instrumentals that fill out the 10 tracks. This can be a sign of desperation or iron whimsy, but if you ask me – and why are you reading this? – they work better than some of the “proper” songs.
“Invade My Heart Tonight” is the best of these, with its giddy synth-pop beat; the nice cover of Soft Cell’s “Bedsitter” isn’t bad either. Nor is the moody dance-pop of “Falling Out.” Stephan Groth is not the most phenomenal of vocalists, but ’80s pop was not noted for singing ability (with occasional big exceptions like the aforementioned Johnson). Groth is perfectly suited to most of this material. He also gets audible help from voice synthesizers throughout; it sounds unnatural, but performance of any kind is inherently unnatural, and in the ’80s…
For those of us who still love arresting synth-bass riffs and pounding that synth-drum beat, 808bit may prove infectious.
Fairlight Children: http://www.fairlightchildren.com/