Tuesday, February 22, 2011


After a trio of albums (PENTHOUSE AND PAVEMENT,  THE LUXURY GAP,  HOW MEN ARE) that successfully combined political/personal sloganeering with catchy melodies,  strong beats,  and electronics via the Human League's initial futurism,  Heaven 17's inspired take on pop collapsed under the weight of its own pretensions.  Two albums followed (PLEASURE ONE and  TEDDY BEAR,  DUKE,  AND PSYCHO)  that did little to attract potential listeners.  While I did buy those releases,  I found them unlistenable especially when compared to their early albums.  I had just about given up on Heaven 17 when I stumbled upon the European edition of BIGGER THAN AMERICA on a trip to  Rome during the summer of 1996,  and was pleasantly surprised by the return of cover paintings by Ray Smith,  who had done the wonderful illustrations for those three early classics.  It turned out that BIGGER THAN AMERICA was indeed a return to form,  both in terms of strong lyrical content and the analogue electronics that made early Human League so special.  Topics such as social status,  financial excess,  hedonism,  and political facade/collapse are explored,  and are just as valid today as they were in 1996,  especially in a world broken by America's cultural imperialism and the cost of its promises.  The sound here is all about a stripped down electronic pulse that has more to do with the Human League's early instrumental  EP THE DIGNITY OF LABOUR Parts 1-4 than the highly produced Heaven 17 albums that preceded BTA.  I know this CD may seem dated to some,  but if you're an individual who yearns for an electro-pop vision of our dystopian world,  this may be a time warp worth picking up on.

1 comment:

  1. ...an unheralded (anti)American classic...truer would have yet to be spoken!