1981, Music

Talk Talk Talk (1981) by The Psychedelic Furs

It should be to their credit that the Psychedelic Furs tried to distinguish themselves on this record more than they did on their debut but I’m not sure how much that works for me. It’s less a criticism (I think) than a manner of personal taste.

On their debut, the Psychedelic Furs are a little like “typical British post punk band plus saxophone and catchier songs.” (And, I guess I should add, a fairly distinct singer.) The songs are again a strength here, they are catchier than the songs of nearly all of their contemporaries and one can imagine a more conventional lead singer taking this album to commercial heights other post punk bands only dreamed of. Alas, Butler’s voice wasn’t about to do that, which is actually not a bad thing for me, anyway.

The aesthetic is still very, very British post punk. There are touches of neo psychedelic music but, again, I find the idea that they are more of a neo psychedelic band kind of hilarious. Like many (most?) British post punk bands of the era, they occasionally introduce psychedelic effects, but that does not render them less of a post punk band.

But the catchier, more conventional songs make them sound much closer to conventional music. Honestly, it might not be crazy to suggest that this is one of those albums that helped birth British alternative rock as something distinct from post punk. If that’s true, I’m really underrating it but I would argue it’s probably still too stuck in the sensibility of British post punk to qualify.

I have two big issues:

One is Butler’s voice. It is a unique instrument and it does make them sound less like their contemporaries. And that’s a good thing! But I also don’t love it, personally.

The far bigger issue is that, by embracing catchier songs, they are just musically less interesting, and less purely post punk. I am a very big fan of the genre, and this is just less committed to that aesthetic I really like. There’s certainly noting wrong with it and I should probably be commending them for trying to be different. But I just don’t particularly like it, which is a problem.


PS If someone can explain to me how this album is “new wave” I’d love to hear it.

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