1981, Music

Dare (1981) by the Human League

I have rarely ever sat down and listened to synthpop. Really, the only album I’ve ever listened to is Violator. And listening to Dare, I really want to go back and downgrade my rating of that Depeche Mode album because, though I think the songs are better, it’s rather shocking how little the genre progressed in 8 and a half years. Shocking.

I don’t like synthpop. I don’t really get its appeal. And a number of the synthpop bands began as less competent British post punk bands. Like so many other things, synthpop emerged as a dumber, poppier version of something much, much cooler (and better).

But despite that, this is still a foundational document of synthpop, right? I mean, it’s years after the earliest music, but it’s one of the earliest big synthpop hits, I think. And it has a particular aesthetic that is very aloof and humourless. That aesthetic is not really what I was expecting and helps make it seem a little less ridiculous than it might seem if this was a party record. (Or not, given I’ve never heard a synthpop party record.)
So I must say that, though I don’t particularly like this – though I like some of the songs and would likely enjoy rock versions of them – it’s hard not to respect it, and acknowledge its place in making this synthpop thing such a big deal (as well as its hand in the Second British Invasion).


  1. “The Things That Dreams Are Made Of” (Oakey, Wright) 4:14
  2. “Open Your Heart” (Callis, Oakey) 3:53
  3. “The Sound of the Crowd” (Burden, Oakey) 3:56
  4. “Darkness” (Callis, Wright) 3:56
  5. “Do or Die” (Burden, Oakey) 5:25
  6. “Get Carter” (Roy Budd) 1:02
  7. “I Am the Law” (Oakey, Wright) 4:09
  8. “Seconds” (Callis, Oakey, Wright) 4:58
  9. “Love Action (I Believe in Love)” (Burden, Oakey) 4:58
  10. “Don’t You Want Me” (Callis, Oakey, Wright) 3:56
  • Ian Burden – synthesizer
  • Jo Callis – synthesizer
  • Joanne Catherall – vocals
  • Philip Oakey – vocals and synthesizer
  • Susan Ann Sulley – vocals
  • Philip Adrian Wright – synthesizer and slides

Additional personnel

  • Martin Rushent – programming
  • Dave Allen – programming, assistant engineer

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