Vol. 1 (Chronicles/PolyGram)
by Jamie Kiffel
Church organs, blasted deep and resonant through a Casio Music Mate, helium-hummy digi-vox, digital snares, and a loop of whispers of unknown European origin bring the 1980s buzzing back – robots, MIDI and all. These are the dances to which stony-faced New Wavers stood rhythmically cemented in place, jerking arms and shoulders like malfunctioning mannequins with attitude. My problem with Volume One is that very little of it revives memories of whizzing through my favorite strobe-lit roller rink, watching day-glo lace and neon skate wheels blind with a streak of heavily gelled teenage coolness. A single zap of computerized swoons came from Soft Cell‘s “Tainted Love” (the “Where Did Our Love Go” remix). Sweetly deodorized wraiths of lipsticked, hairless boys with raised collars and Benetton socks flit from my stereo and ride tweeter-torching laser zaps throughout the room. I found sounds better to soften my jelly bracelets to on Volume II, featuring Wang Chung, Men Without Hats (“The Safety Dance”), Tears for Fears (“Shout,” the song I listened to every day on my fluorescently-flavored ride to second grade), and Eurythmics (“Sweet Dreams,” the video that made me contemplate cows for half my early childhood). If you too wish to revive such deeply repressed realizations, Electronic ’80s just might buzz ’em out of your slouch sock memory bank. Just be prepared for a wad of pink bubble-dreams reeking of Electric Youth to expand gray-and-pink plastic thoughts you were sure you’d lost long ago in the cuffs of your white, linen dinner jacket.