1982, Music

Upstairs at Eric’s (1982) by Yazoo aka Yaz

As someone is absolutely not a fan of synthpop, this works better, as expected.

The vocals have not only a degree of blues and soul (as has been noted ad infinitum) but they also route this otherwise extremely robotic electronic music in a tradition that most of this music ignores or only hints at.

The music is indeed robotic. There’s only one guy doing everything so all sounds aside from the vocals are created by keyboards and, shockingly, those keyboards are pretty shitty (it was 1982 after all).

The songs are significantly less memorable than those by The Human League (the only other synth pop band from this era that I know at all) which is probably the primary reason that I will forget about this later on. I cannot see myself going back to listening to a record like this just because the vocalist’s (relatively) unique style (really not at all unique, but just unique for the genre).

Synthpop is one of those genres which has dated so so much due to changes in technology. It likely has more pull for people who lived through it and have fond memories of the music. I was not quite 1 year old when this album was released, and so I hear something made with old technology that sounds like it was, with vocals that do not sound dated, which is a little bit of an odd combination.

This isn’t meant as a pan, I just mean that I think the uniqueness of this record relative to other UK synthpop bands was a much bigger deal in 1982 than it is now but, from what I’ve read, this was hugely influential on a bunch of different bands and even on UK house, so there’s that.

For fans of the genre only, I suspect.


PS Both Wikipedia and Rate Your Music label this music “new wave,” a label which I reject. I reject it for two reasons:

  1. New Wave is, in part, a chronological label used to distinguish emerging music that was not punk from actual punk. That began in 1976 or 1977, which is obviously a long time before 1982. If this was new wave, it would be “second wave” new wave.
  2. The genre characteristics of new wave are not present here in any way that I can hear.

Just an FYI.

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