I’ve been really struggling to figure out how to write anything about this album other than WTF, I can’t believe this is Ministry, this sounds like like Dead Or Alive or Human League or any other synthpop album from 1983. I finally figured out that I was stuck because I kind of liked it…quite a bit, actually. And so I couldn’t just immediately write it off, but at the same time, it’s really hard to get past the surface level timbres and beats that are just so synthpop circa 1983 and get down to what’s likable. I mean, it’s compositionally super fucking solid, but the genre is so off-putting, like the quality just doesn’t fit into what I associate that which I associate with that genre.
And that’s really kind of the sum of where I fall on the whole thing. It’s like alt-synthpop, where it’s just a bit too smart lyrically and compositionally to get major radio airplay, and yet it’s solidly in a genre that is only going to survive if it can appeal to the masses. I guess there was like Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys and groups like that, and I can definitely hear some Depeche Mode going on, but still, this is just so much more put together, at least in terms of songcraft if not timbre, than those bands.
Although there are a few notable songs, “I Wanted To Tell Her” is the standout track on the album. There’s a female vocalist (possibly Shay Jones) who elevates the song to a new level with her melody and emotional, character-driven melody. I wish there were more of her on the album, because I love this song, but underneath her are the hit-and-miss rhythms and keyboard textures and melodies that define the rest of the album. And just like some of the full hearts below are examples of giving the benefit of the doubt to tracks that maybe really be open hearts, calling this track a mixer might be a stretch, but it’s such a standout and I do kinda want to share it.
Look, in the end, this album does not rise up above much more than a curiosity in the catalog of a band that would go on to basically define the industrial/metal hybrid in the next decade. But if I ever get the urge to listen to a synthpop album, it’s going to be this one, and I’m going to enjoy myself.
Mix: “I Wanted To Tell Her”
– “Revenge,” “Work For Love,” “What He Say,” “She’s Got A Cause”
– “Effigy (I’m Not An),” “Here We Go,” “Say You’re Sorry,” “Should Have Known Better”
Song Notes: After the jump
- Effigy (I’m Not An) – pretty good.
- Revenge – barely full.
- I Wanted To Tell Her – 5.5 minutes. Maybe my fave on the album, though. Love the “I notice every time” part. Hard one to categorize b/c LOVE the female vocal part but the rest of it could be scrapped as far as I’m concerned.
- Work For Love – Cool, but way too long/repetitive at end.
- Here We Go – pretty brash. Very forward. Less subtleties than the other tracks, but they keep it pretty short in comparison with the others, so some good self-awareness there. My least fave…not too far away from broken heart.
- What He Say – Weird lyrics about human rights and Swaziland. And “Keen-ya.” Brash keyhorn riffs. He does that brash British/David Byrne thing where the vocal melody is completely off from the rest of the song but it kind of works. I can get very into parts of this, but as a whole it’s a bit of an effort to listen to. Ah hell, it’s interesting enough: full. Goofy…that’s a good way to describe it.
- Say You’re Sorry – I do kinda like that sax solo at the top. I mean, it’s cheese and so of the time, but … I like it. Another one like “Work For Love” where they get ridiculously repetitive at the end
- Should Have Known Better – is this all about an affair? is this a concept album? These lyrics are actually pretty filled with pathos. almost full.
- She’s Got A Cause – I like all but the chorus. Such a good ending track. The whole album is really well-sequenced with a capper at the end, the best track at #3, etc.