Wall of Sound
Except for the auto-tuning, this sounds just like the Human League I last saw on MTV in the Reagan years. They still crank out synthesizer-driven post-new wave pop larded with post-ironic lyrics, and the electronic effects aren’t as annoying as Daft Punk or T-Pain.
Perhaps they’re just letting us know they haven’t turned into a revival act. The vocals are still urgent and a bit quirky, and lyrically they still find absurdity in the texture of daily life. Tune into “Night People” and you’ll hear “Leave your corn flakes in your freezers/ Leave your chocolate and your cheeses/ Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” How should we read this? Reject consumerism and join the Green Party? Hang out in Belgium? Or apply more styling mousse and hit the dance floor? These are deep questions, questions that haunt our society a lifetime after the drum machine changed the world.
We can find these enigmatic questions skating everywhere on this disc — in the throbbing “Egomaniac,” behind the house-influenced “Electric Shock,” and even infesting the hook-laden “Never Let Me Go.” All sound like glossy pop tunes, but only thinly veil a deeper sense of confusion, an unhappiness with the world today, and a heartfelt inquiry: Can pop music change the world?
Maybe only by subversion, subliminal messages, and catch phrases, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s this synth wunderkinder.