1984, Music

All Over the Place (1984) by The Bangles

So many of my impressions of ’80s bands with only a couple of hits have been formed by those hits, and so I often find myself encountering a band with strong preconceived notions and finding them just blasted apart by albums. I don’t know if I’m alone in thinking “Walk Like an Egyptian” is gimmicky and dumb, but I do feel that way. I guess I sort of that that’s what I was in for with this record.

But no, that’s not what’s here. Rather, we get a lot of earnest ’80s power pop, with strong melodies, lyrics that remind us women don’t feel the way men do, and lot of backing vocals.

The songs are mostly of the catchy-but-muscular variety one usually associates with power pop, though the level of muscle varies from song to song (more on that in a moment). I think it’s fairly clear that Hoffs is the better songwriter overall even at this early stage (as her co-writes are often more compelling), and she’s also the more charismatic singer. But Vicki Peterson does do most of the heavy lifting, so it seems, and it’s not a huge downgrade from one to the other. (And now I realize I was identifying songwriter by lead singer which isn’t entirely true if you look at the credits, so maybe this is unfair.)

As I noted above, the lyrics offer a refreshing perspective, one that was still sadly very rare in 1984. This one feels entirely their own, too, as there is a strong sense of authorial voice to the lyrics, even if they’re far from the best lyrics.
If the title was meant to refer to the arrangements, well, that’s not true. (I assume it wasn’t.) With one notable exception, everything is very much within the realm of ’80s power pop, though there are so many backing vocals I am left wondering if one reason why this record is often characterized as “pop” in some circles is simply due to male associations of women’s voices with pop music. Because this record does indeed have guitar solos and other things that you normally find in rock music.

The one exception is “More Than Meets the Eye” which is, naturally, my favourite thing here, and the one thing that suggests they are really willing to think outside the box. It’s a shame they didn’t take more risks like this.

Anyway, a very solid power pop album.


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