Review Summary: A stunning synth-pop debut that came from a band who sadly arrived a little too late to receive all the recognition they deserved.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Alphaville were one of those unfortunate bands that arrived moments too late. The German trio produced melodic synth-pop tunes not far removed from their early 80s contemporaries like 'Yazoo' or 'The Human League', but sadly didn’t achieve the same levels of success as those aforementioned bands that inspired them.
It all came down to timing - Alphaville's debut arrived in 1984, a time when synth-pop (or at least its popularity) started to pack its bags, and by the time their follow-up ('Afternoons in Utopia') arrived in 1986, it had virtually left all together, as the genre that seemed so new and exciting at the start of the decade had begun to lose its appeal somewhat.
That's a real shame, because the 10 tracks that appear on 'Forever Young' are sharp, melodic shots of synth-pop brilliance. Take the iconic title track, for example, displaying a slow, deliberate tempo and subtle vocals from Marian Gold. It should’ve topped charts in the west but inexplicably didn't. 'Big in Japan' with its vaguely oriental melody or 'Fallen Angel' with its infectious chorus were equally worthy of chart attention.
The band seemed heavily inspired by early 80s British synth-pop and it crops up in many places, such as 'Sounds Like a Melody' whose intro is so 'Yazoo' it hurts. Even Gold's voice, despite English being his second language, maintains a loose British accent. Whilst on the subject of his voice, it's important to mention that it's rather brilliant - the opener 'A Victory of Love' being a prime example of Gold's ability to effortlessly creep from a baritone whisper to a floating, sweet falsetto.
Overall, 'Forever Young' can't come highly recommended enough, for fans of synth-pop, 80s music or perhaps, more specifically, English bands like 'Yazoo', 'The Human League' and early 'Depeche Mode'. Tragically underrated and underappreciated, Alphaville's debut contains not a single duff moment and is a thoroughly fun ride from start to finish.