Thursday, 11 August 2011

Talk Talk Talk – The Psychedelic Furs

Even if you don’t recognise the name, you’ll instantly know the first track on their second album; Talk Talk Talk. “Pretty in Pink” was given a gaudy, cheesy reworking for the film of the same name and shows up time and again in tampon adverts and the like. On this album though the song is presented more restrained amongst a batch of poppy, post punk gems, layered guitars and distortion. When you listen to it without something being sold to you, “Pretty In Pink” is a pretty dark song. It could be about boys preying on a helpless girls emotions for sex. Regardless, with less saxophone the lead singers sneering “Pretty in pink, isn’t she?” is plain creepy and threatening.
The Psychedelic Furs are a dark band and Talk Talk Talk is a compilation of anti-love songs. Both “Into You Like A Train” and the brutally honest “I Wanna Sleep With You” bypass romance in favour of looking at the darker side of relationships. The bass rumbles and the saxophone cries all over their songs. There is a paranoid quality to everything too, the superb final song, “All of This & Nothing”, starts with a false intro, fading out before bursting into another song. If there is a theme on this album, it would be that things are not what they seem.
The real star here is Richard Butler who croons and mumbles vicious, nihilistic lyrics while staying a cool customer. “Dumb Waiters” is a flat out mean, biting number that reminds me of Dylan crying out against society.  The lyrics are steeped in surrealism and snap back and forth between good cop/ bad cop.  On “So Run Down” Butler spends a chorus naming household object before yelling  "now I'm left with all of this, a roomful of your trash.
So why is this a pop album than? Simply put the drums have a swing that is perfectly danceable to. The band is also amazingly proficient at coming up with killer hooks. The repetitive, incessant beat that propels these songs is pop dynamite. Layered over this is unbelievable cool; not 80’s leg warmer cool, but charisma and effortless that hasn’t aged a day.
Unlike pure post-punk bands the spit and polish makes ugly tracks a breeze to listen to and even kind of enhances the creepy theme of “love is ugly”. Unlike pure pop this album packs heady thoughts and an emotional punch into good riffs and fantastic beats. This album is pretty unlike either category and is worth checking out just because of its bizarre, two faced nature. I think that’s what the cover represents, indeterminable emotions not concerned with what is happening around them. And at the same time it could just be a cool pop cover.

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