Don’t You Forget That Talk Talk’s Early New Wave Material Was Essential Too


When speaking concerning the first few albums by Talk Talk, it feels a bit of like discussing "Brown Eyed Girl"-era, pre-Astral Weeks Van Morrison, or Radiohead whereas Thom Yorke was nonetheless lamenting "I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo" amdist thick, grungy Jonny Greenwood ca-chunks. It's the a part of the band's historical past that non-fans are more than likely to be acquainted with, though it's the half that longtime followers are more than likely to dismiss altogether, or that newer followers won't even find out about within the first place. 

The band -- fronted by the late Mark Hollis, who died this week at age 64 -- went on to such large, borderline-unprecedented musical accomplishments within the late '80s and early '90s as soon as they stopped caring about having hit singles, that their synth-pop days of the early '80s can nearly appear crassly industrial by comparability. But after all, each "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Creep" nonetheless endure as classics in their very own proper, and a number of Talk Talk's early materials stays equally important -- even because it appears like an nearly enitrely totally different group that went on to determine the template for turn-of-the-century post-rock with their ensuing LPs.

Talk Talk got here out swinging on their first single, the seething "Talk Talk." Adapted from a music Hollis wrote however by no means launched with earlier band The Reaction -- then titled "Talk Talk Talk Talk," after the music's repeated refrain -- the music made an apparent impression from its first synth blasts, slithering its means onto the charts on either side of the Atlantic and changing into a fixture on early MTV for its summary, post-apocalyptic and uber-nu wave music video. "Talk Talk" additionally shared not solely a title with a Music Machine hit from 1966, collected on the Lenny Kaye-curated Nuggets field set, however a basic technique: Both songs unleash their title refrains like quick, concentrated jabs to the top, leaving the listener reeling.

Ironically for a band who would come to be remembered for expansive preparations and affected person pacing, of their early days, Talk Talk excelled at hooks like this: compact, to the purpose and completely unmissable. Debut album The Party's Over is filled with these, together with post-punkier breakout U.Ok. hit "Today" (which accommodates 4 backing shouts of the title phrase per chorus) and the string-soaked side-B minimize "Mirror Man" (refrain: "MIRROR MAN! Oh, oh, oh"). The album's daring melodies and new-wave vitality acquired the band lumped within the Spandau Ballets and Duran Durans of the most recent British invasion -- and never unfairly so -- however whereas Hollis' vocals had been usually tortured, his phrasing hardly ever was: there's no speak of buying a ticket to the world or being as easy as a nuclear war to be discovered. 

Even nonetheless, sophomore set It's My Life was a The Bends-sized leap for Talk Talk. Rarely talked about among the many band's traditional albums, It's My Life stays an astonishingly completed LP, equally adept at Simple Minds-like enviornment synth-pop ("Such a Shame"), explosive sophisti-rock ("Call in the Night Boys"), and art-pop energy balladry ("Tomorrow Started"). The gradual creep and moaning horns and keys of the latter even served as a primary style of the band's subsequent part, with each it and torch music "Renee" stretching out to 6 minutes, and the roaming fretless bass of Paul Webb and paradoxically lush minimalism of Tim Friese-Greene's manufacturing demonstrating a better depth to the band's sonics than almost any of their contemporaries. 

And after all, the album peaks with the title monitor -- simply the band's best-remembered hit, arguably their single-song masterpiece, andunquestionably their most iconic video. Like "Talk Talk," the music bursts out of the gate -- the opening drum hit even seems like a starter's pistol -- with descending keys on prime, frisky bass effervescent undernath, and out of nowhere, what seems like synth seagulls squawking overhead. Hollis' lyric, wistful and self-effacing, begins as a love music that might go both means: "Funny how I discover myself in love with you/ If I might purchase my reasoning, I'd pay to lose." But the music undergoes a shock chord change earlier than the pre-chorus, and by the point the exhilarating hook hits, the lyric's turned defiant, if nonetheless despairing: "It's my life! Don't you overlook! It's my life! It by no means ends!" It's a catharsis that feels all of the extra visceral for its unexpectedness.

Like all of Talk Talk's music from any part of the band's profession, it's tied collectively by the singular voice of Hollis. His pinched yelp was sometimes new wave in its grand drama and always-heightened urgency, however there was a type of hitch in it that made it at all times recognizable, just like the sound of unpalatable (and maybe unexpressable) feelings getting caught in his throat. More than any of his friends, Hollis appeared capable of vocalize a sort of deeper craving that at all times transcended no matter floor considerations he was singing about, which made his eventual lyrical transition from romantic melodrama to a quasi-religious naturalism a surprisingly coherent one. You can hear the distinction in No Doubt's hit cowl of "It's My Life," a effective interpretation of a pop music timeless sufficient to nonetheless be a serious hit 20 years later, however one nearly solely devoid of the distinctive pressure and gravity of the unique; it's Hollis' vocal that makes the music indelible. 

That transition would begin in earnest with the band's third album, 1986's panoramic The Colour of Spring, which contained their largest U.Ok. chart hit within the hovering "Life's What You Make It" -- although even that single contained no conventional verses or choruses. Ultimately, it will be Colour, together with 1988's Spirit of Eden and 1991's Laughing Stock, that offered Hollis and Talk Talk their most lasting legacy -- the albums that seem on Pitchfork best-of-decade lists, or get namechecked by the following era's most essential artists. But you don't have any of that with out their early days, which have aged higher than you would possibly keep in mind, and which nonetheless present the songs you're more than likely to listen to on the radio, to seek out in karaoke books, or to have the ability to share with somebody who doesn't in any other case notice what an inventive nice Hollis was. That half by no means ends, both.