Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Alphaville, Forever Young (1984)

Back in the day, when I was trying to figure out what kind of music I liked, I had a book called Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide (it was an older edition than the one in the link). The idea here was that, instead of just evaluating each album by a given act in methodical fashion, there would be little blurbs on what to buy, what to buy next, what's just for diehards, and what to avoid. Everything else would just be listed in a list sans commentary. Looking back, it's hard to see what possible justification there could have been for this decision, aside from "this is easier for us 'cause we don't have to write as much." Oh, and also, 'cause it's a "hound," albums are rated in "bones," from five at the top to "woof!" at the bottom.

The bigger problem, though, was that they let people with serious chips on their shoulders regarding various artists review said artists' oeuvres, resulting in quite a number of entries displaying a quite shocking lack of professionalism. One act so dismissed was German synthpop band Alphaville. Holy shit that dude hated Alphaville. I wish I knew where the book was so I could quote from it. But I believe nothing got more than one point five "bones." And because, ooh, it's in A Book, it has an air of legitimacy to it (or so I thought in my younger, naïver days), so I sure wasn't listening to Alphaville back in the day, I'll tell you that much.

And that SUCKS, because how perfect is the band's first album, Forever Young? Pretty much completely perfect, is the answer. Pure bliss. Seriously, I know most people don't have the sort of eighties-synthpop fetish that I do, but regardless, what kind of awful, joyless individual could possibly dislike this? I mean, okay, as the genre goes, it doesn't have the icy grandeur of your Ultravoxes or the political chargedness of your Heavens 17--and yes, what with being written by a non-native-English speaker, some of the lyrics get a bit silly on occasion (though nothing all that egregious), but does any of this matter?

Not when the opening "A Victory of Love" is being the most awesome piece of melodrama you've ever heard--just when you think it can't go any higher--bam, higher, until it breaks into the glorious "she's playing with love" refrain. Or when the similarly-awesome single "Big in Japan"* comes on. Or when it's "Sounds like a Melody," which completely goes nuts (in an awesome say!) in the final, instrumental bit. Or when…well, when anything else is playing, really.

*Some guy on the internet claims that the fact that singer Marian Gold is straight indicates that the song is NOT about gay hustling, in spite of the lines "I will wait here for my man tonight" and "Pay--and I'll sleep by your side." What an odd mindset.

Jeez. Seriously. Every song here is great. Admittedly, I haven't had a lot of luck (to this date) with getting into the band's later albums, but this is gold. Screw you, Musichound! You've betrayed me for the last time!


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