This is an excellent debut albums which combines post punk and new wave to mostly great effect.
I love British post punk but, the older I get the more I notice the genre’s biggest flaw: so many bands are style over substance, i.e. they have a great sound and often lack the songs to back it up. (This is especially true on the debuts.) That is not the case with The Associates, who clearly can write decent melodies. (More on as to why in a moment.) At times if does feel as if the songs were the priority rather than the sound, which is something you don’t often get with British post punk debuts.
When I say the album combines post punk and new wave what I mean is that it is on the spectrum somewhere between the two, though often closer to post punk. Songs are way more important to new wave bands, for the most part and I suspect the clear new wave influence on this record is one reason these guys decided to focus more on songwriting than their contemporaries. We might call the sound “post punk influenced by new wave”. Certainly, there’s more than just a Joy Division influence here, which can’t be said for a number of their contemporaries.
I want to highlight “Amused as Always” as a particularly great example of what they are capable of – it has a coda worthy of 21st century Radiiohead, something I can assure you I was not expecting. (And that’s hardly the only jamming they do.)
My biggest quibble with the record, honestly, is that it isn’t particularly original. You can definitely play spot the influences with both the early post punk bands and early new wave bands, if you really want to. And though the songs are usually good enough to keep you from doing that, it’s still pretty apparent that these guys are hopping on some trends, rather than blazing a trail.
Still, a pretty great debut.