Review by: Syd Spence
Album assigned by: Jeremiah Methven
Recently, I’ve been entranced by the new chillwave and vaporwave scenes. These new movements involve taking the cold, artificial production aesthetic of the ‘80s to its maximum conclusion. I personally love it. It’s an icy futuristic, strange soundscape. It’s the audio equivalent of exploring an ice cavern program in the computer universe of Tron. It’s real interesting stuff. So when I was assigned a legitimate new wave record from the Reagan era, I was excited, but boy was I wrong..
The Fine Young Cannibals play pop soul music and the only reason this has a cold artificial feel is because it was produced in the ‘80s. Just like sitars popping up in music hall songs in the ‘60s, you had to have an artificial cold production in the 80s for some reason. This aesthetic just destroys any soul in this music of the Fine Young Cannibals. Thus FYC just fail immediately at their modus operandi.
Though to be honest FYC dont just play plastic soul, they also pepper in jangle pop, synth pop, and some sounds from burgeoning rave scene (the funky drummer sample is used and legitimate acid house squelches are heard). Essentially they sound like the Cool Rick Astley. Hell, they even cover such cool bands as the Beat and the Buzzcocks! Which they immediately ruin with their garbage aesthetic.
Now I know I’m being tough (and I should be because this album is absolute garbage) but there is some light in this Thatcher era darkness. The hit single is a catchy new wave track. It has a certain beautiful longing that reminds me of “There She goes” by the The Las. But I’m asbsolutely certain you could get this song on some ‘Best of’ ‘80s compilation with Kajagoogoo, Tears for Fears, A-Ha and others. Oh did I mention that they use the funky drummer sample in one of their songs? I mean sure you have to tune out the rubbish plastic soul, but damn, that drum fill is fantastic.
In conclusion, Fine Young Cannibals get 1/10 for butchering one of my favorite Buzzcocks songs, and James Brown and the JBs get a 10/10 for being funky as all hell. Congratulations James Brown and friends!