Talk Talk - The Party's Over
A lot of the criticism levelled at Talk Talk the band, and this their debit album, was unfair. Yes this is a poppier album, but "Candy", "Have You Heard The News" and especially "Talk Talk" are all good solid tracks, the last being quite the best they have done in my view. Pop this may have been, but it was the class end of pop. Among the more hip crowd, this album is frequently derided in comparison with their later work but, in my view, that is extremely unfair. Mark Hollis had grown up to a certain extent in the shadow of his brother but had started out his own musical journey in a very different place. To this day I believe that he felt that he had to deliver some pop albums, with catchy hook lines and easily understood lyrics, in order to be given the space later to undertake projects which were more to his own musical agenda. Once the band was established, and after the release of this album, he fired the original producer and took thinks towards a completely different musical outlook.
At the time this came out, Talk Talk and Tears for Fears seemed to be vying for the same niche in pop. Synth pop yes, but with a difference, not so heavily dependent on synthesisers as many, but certainly giving them greater prominence than many of the New Romantics. This did not set out to be dance music, but it was undoubtedly danceable. Often it contained imagery and lyrics which were stronger and more thoughtful than it was presumed would be suitable for the transience of pop. Though initially Tears for Fears had the greater success, certainly having more major hits, it is arguable that Talk Talk had the more lasting impact. Initially, I found more affinity with the sound of Talk Talk and never felt that I was overlooking the better band in doing so.
A lot of people compared the band with Duran Duran. Personally I think that is an insult. Duran Duran were shameless self-publicists who were in it to be popstars. Their songs were intended to direct people's attention away from what was going on around them. Yet Talk Talk never adopted such a ruthlessly optimisitic tone. I never got the impression that Mark Hollis wanted to be a popstar and his later career with the band somewhat bears this out. Duran Duran were chart-poppy crappy who aimed their message at pre-pubescent teenagers of both sexes; girls drooled over band members and boys drooled over the models they put in their videos. Personally, I prefer to compare them, as I indicated earlier, more with Tears for Fears. The latter had more commercial success but Talk Talk were a more competent band, musically, and this album demonstrates the potential they would later go on to realise, that is, assuming you consider their later, more post-rock era, to be an improvement.
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