Monday, September 19, 2011

Talk Talk-The Party's Over

Though they arrived in the early 1980s as part of the New Romantics scene in Britain, Talk Talk was a group that would defy that category in the coming years. Formed in 1981 by vocalist Mark Hollis, bassist Paul Webb, drummer Lee Smith, and keyboardist Simon Brenner, Talk Talk were initially part of the New Romantics movement that included acts like Duran Duran. The band was signed to EMI as an EP got bits of buzz as the record was expanded into an album as the band worked with producer Colin Thurston, the man who produced Duran Duran’s first two albums, for their debut release entitled The Party’s Over.

Produced by Colin Thurston, The Party’s Over is an album that has Talk Talk starting off as a synthesizer-driven new wave group with a lot of the elements of 1980s New Romantics music. What stood Talk Talk apart from acts like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet at the time is the vocals of Mark Hollis. While the music would feature none of the more organic yet esoteric sounds that would come into later albums. The result is a fascinating although somewhat derivative album from Talk Talk.

Opening the album is its leading single Talk Talk with its pounding beats, bopping dance rhythm, and flourishing synthesizer wails as Mark Hollis sings in his low yet broad vocals. Featuring biting lyrics towards manipulation, the song is one of the band’s key tracks featuring Colin Thurston’s superb production and a melodic piano riff in the bridge of the song. It’s So Serious is a mid-tempo track with swooning synthesizer melodies, Paul Webb’s smooth bass line, and Lee Smith’s rumbling electronic beats. Hollis’ calm vocals take charge to the song’s melancholic lyrics in this rich yet catchy song filled with wonderful layers towards Simon Brenner‘s synthesizers. Today is an upbeat track with throbbing rhythms and sturdy bass lines as it includes wavy synthesizers and dreamy lyrics. The vocals that Hollis provides an air of disappointment that is expressed though it’s often covered by the song’s more upbeat presentation.

The title track is a more bopping, mid-tempo track with upbeat synthesizer melodies and Hollis’ soothing vocals. The song’s lyrics express the end of something though it’s a song that includes soft bird chirps in the background that doesn’t really work as well as its overstated length. Hate is led by Smith’s driving beat rumblings and Brenner’s wavy synthesizers as Hollis snarls through the song’s dark though over-dramatic lyrics. The song’s tempo changes a bit to a more smooth though upbeat presentation for its chorus as it goes back and forth. Have You Heard the News? features a bopping rhythm and melodic synthesizer waves that is followed by a more swooning synthesizer and an ominous piano riff. Hollis’ wailing vocals play to the song’s lyrics that reflects the idea of rumor and blame as it’s a wonderful yet dark cut.

Mirror Man is a bopping, mid-tempo track with melodic synthesizer blares and pounding beats while Hollis sings in a calm manner. The song’s lyrics play to the creepiness of this man as it’s a song that doesn’t really have a lot of weight due to the over-reliance on synthesizers that also acts as a string section piece. Another Word is a more upbeat, dance-rhythmic track that features sputtering beat breaks and wavy synthesizers. Hollis sings to bassist Paul Webb’s grimy lyrics that is a real weak point despite a decent presentation and performance that is present on the song. The closing track in Candy, a mid-tempo ballad with swooning synthesizer and piano melodies plus steady beats and Hollis’ soothing vocals. The lyrics are filled with anguish over a girl as it’s a fitting though underwhelming close to the album.

Released in July of 1982, the album was received with decent reviews as the song Talk Talk gave the band a modest hit in the U.S as well as being a hit in the U.K. Though the band was given some wider exposure through MTV and opening for a one-off Genesis reunion for Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD project. The record and the new wave image the band was presented didn’t fit in with what Mark Hollis wanted as they were seeking a change in their musical direction.

The Party’s Over is a good debut album from Talk Talk but definitely their weakest of the five the band has made from 1981 to 1991. Largely because the music is derivative of the times as it features sounds that is similar to acts like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. While there’s some songs that are worth noting, the record starts to fall flat and be repetitive towards the final third. In the end, The Party’s Over is a decent album from Talk Talk.

© thevoid99 2011

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