The Best of A Flock of SeagullsOf course, the flush of invention and excitement that surrounded synthpop faded as it dwindled into pap, and the punky, funky side of 80s music was transmuted into lead by clodhoppers like Curiosity Killed the Cat and others who spawned godawful blue-eyed soul. Indie music actually became resolutely rockist, and it became very rare for guitar bands to have "a dance element". Of course, they all rediscovered it by the end of the 80s, because baggy was selling, and dance music finally broke into the mainstream.
The 80s were characterised by a sort of brittle, plasticised pop, which is very much of its time. What I think people looking back do not realise, and when I watch shows like "I love the eighties" or whatever the fuck that's called, in which B-grade TV presenters reminisce about times they were not part of, what's striking is that no one says "We all wanted to be Bowie". But we did! I know I did. We all slapped on makeup and our mum's clothes, and became enormous posers. We all wanted that ineffable cool that Bowie epitomised in the late seventies, that deep Europeanism that informed his work in his Berlin period and echoed what is often seen as the golden age of modernism, from the decline of Austria-Hungary through the First World War and the early decades of the last century, until the Depression and the onset of the Second World War killed modernism stone dead, because we learned to our horror that the modern that we had been worshipping was a monster.
So we had a ton of bands who had mad hair and clothes and adopted futurism, or simply revelled in the present in the hollow, vain way that was the keynote of the 80s. A Flock of Seagulls, among the New Romantics, were not the most successful, did not have the broadest oeuvre and are now largely forgotten, but, man, they had the best hair. The singer had the most wtf construction on his head.
Anyway, the music is mostly pop and very much of its day. On a couple of songs, I ran, and in particular, Wishing, they lift and spread out into something a bit deeper and more satisfying (although I wonder whether I feel that way mostly because Wishing was a huge favourite of mine back in the day; I've always been a sucker for the wistful, even when the words that express the wistfulness are such transparent nonsense: if I had a photograph, I wouldn't spend my life just wishing? Umm, what?).
It's not the sort of stuff you can listen to often, because music, and me too, of course, has moved on so much. Music from the 80s doesn't translate particularly well, in large part because the early synths that bands used have a sound that we wouldn't use much today, and the production was more flashy than we'd now find tasteful. But it's decent enough when you want to get a bit nostalgic, and I sometimes do.