The The
Infected


5.0
classic

Review

by DoofusWainwright CONTRIBUTOR (60 Reviews)
June 18th, 2015 | 42 replies


Release Date: 1986 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Just Another Western Guy with Desires that He Can't Satisfy

Prior to 'Infected' Matt Johnson sounded like a typical introverted bedroom artist; his lyrics never seemed to escape the confines of his own skull and his songs told stories of loneliness, solitude and frustration. The distinctly minimal musical backing he used to colour around these predominantly hushed and awkward vocals only served to further reinforce this impression. Fast forward to 1986 and something monumental has happened, with the release of 'Infected' Johnson changes tack entirely; here he sounds unrestrained, brimming with confidence and hungry to broaden his horizons. It’s as if he'd suddenly stumbled on not only his bus pass to travel around his native London but also his passport as his lyrical focus and musical palette have a new-found global sweep to them. What he sees with this new perspective clearly invigorates, depresses and terrifies him in equal measure; make no mistake Infected is an album with a lot to say.

The lyrics are so wide ranging here it's hard to know where to start; they manage to be both unmistakably a product of their age and yet at the same time almost unbelievably universal in their appeal. A few themes stand out as particularly prominent; how sin manifests itself in the individual and society at large, the slow death of religious faith and resultant lack of fulfilment felt by the western populace and the creeping decay of Great Britain and its empire, though in truth these are only the tip of the iceberg. Some of Johnson’s lyrics have proven to be particularly prescient, most notably ‘Sweet Bird of Truth’s horrifying account of a doomed 'GI Joe' comparing his lack of faith to the unshakable belief displayed by his enemies goes straight to the heart of the West’s mistrust and fear of the Middle East. Elsewhere we find bankers screwing up the economy (‘Heartland’), the rich getting richer (‘Twilight of a Champion’) and wars being fought for money (‘Angels of Deception’) just in case we foolishly believed the world would ever change.

All the above could make the idea of listening this album sound as appealing as watching a newsreel for 45 minutes so it’s important to emphasise just how alive 'Infected' sounds. Every song has a feeling of motion and adventure to it, with unexpected musical curve-balls at every turn. Johnson is a consummate storyteller whether taking us on a trip to the seedy side of town to secure the services of a prostitute ('Out of the Blue') or inviting us to join him on a ‘dark night of the soul’ road trip ('The Mercy Beat'). The music constantly shifts to its surrounding with bursts of horns, synths or even what sound like bongo drums on 'Sweet Bird of Truth', in each case these choices are well selected. However Infected’s musical ace in the hole are the female vocals that make an appearance on almost every song shifting perspectives from lovers (Neneh Cherry adds lead vocals for a duet with Johnson on 'Slow Train to Dawn'), prostitutes or angels begging the question as to whether they all amount to the same influence here.

The The would go on to record three subsequent albums, all interesting in their own right, though none could truly compete with this release’s fierce focus and unparalleled inventiveness.

Also: Infected is one of very few albums to have had a video recorded for each track, they're well worth checking out too.



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user ratings (50)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
June 18th 2015


6850 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

First review on the site, this was a 30 minute in the office write so break me in gentle.

MrSirLordGentleman
June 18th 2015


9100 Comments


Every time that I think of a clever band name it ends up existing already

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
June 18th 2015


6850 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Ah yeah and obviously this is my favourite album of all time hence choosing it as a first review

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
June 18th 2015


6850 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

MrSLG this band name reads witty on paper but it sure is shitty to pronounce when introducing people to the band

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
June 18th 2015


7691 Comments


finally a review

where's zak so this achievement can be properly celebrated

Digging: Gucci Mane - Everybody Looking

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
June 19th 2015


6850 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks Arcade, typical of Zak to disappear in my time of need.

zakalwe
June 21st 2015


17046 Comments


Sorry dudes been traipsing around the Lake District knee deep in sheep shit.
Review is great, bands a funny one for me though, doesn't grab me at all.

Digging: BADBADNOTGOOD - IV

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
June 21st 2015


6850 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Zak I've not been to the Lake District, been to the Peak District plenty of times, both areas rich in sheep shit.

Don't worry about not digging The The, they're a strange one, lots of people find Johnson too preachy. Music-wise all the albums are pretty different, you might prefer the 90's album'Dusk' with Marr on guitar. This album is full on 80's

rib
August 20th 2015


20 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love this album, esp for out of the blue into the fire and title track. I don't even really like all the songs, but I used to listen to it all the time when I discovered it in mid nineties. So strange. hypnotic. I salute you picking this album--I think it's the the The album least adulterated by any other influence (youth, early career jitters--Soul mining......late career anxieties--Dusk......how to repackage the spirit of infected--Mind Bomb). They're all good though, esp dusk (this is the night, bluer than midnight). dats my take. nice review

rib
August 20th 2015


20 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

of all bands i have strong feelings about, this is probably the one with the highest percentage of songs I could take or leave...... but its the strength of the few great songs and the deep strangeness of the total package, I do believe

rib
August 20th 2015


20 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

and the cover art

AnimalsAsSummit
October 13th 2015


2097 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

what a bonkers album

Digging: Aburadako - 1985

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2015


6850 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Animal this album will take over your life if you let it

AnimalsAsSummit
October 14th 2015


2097 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

it already is starting to after four jams..... damn, out of the blue especially blows my mind along with the last track. so quirky yet epic, probably will bump to a 4.5 in the near future

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2015


6850 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Those are my two favourite songs, Heartland is up there too.



If you want to check out his other albums Soul Mining is more solo 80's electronic and a lot of people prefer it to this (I don't but it's really good all the same), Mind Bomb is even more quirky than this but may be too much so, Dusk is more organic and sounds more like a conventional band (a few people rate it as his best), Naked Self is stripped down almost singer songwriter stuff in places and is just ok.

AnimalsAsSummit
October 14th 2015


2097 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

will give them a listen for sure, this was an awesome find

AnimalsAsSummit
November 17th 2015


2097 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

listening to this a ton lately..... this album is a musical triumph in every sense. every song is expertly composed and it all fits in the same world. probably one of the funnest albums ive ever heard

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
November 17th 2015


6850 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Animals - I've probably listened to this album over a thousand times and I still never get bored by it

AnimalsAsSummit
November 17th 2015


2097 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

^Wow. I just wish more people knew about it on here. Truly a underrated gem.



This album definitely re-ignited my passion for more post-punk too. One album I've found recently (if u havent yet heard it) that gives me similar vibes to this is The Ghost Trade by Camberwell Now. Totally different sound, but aesthetically similar; it looks like they're from the same year, so that might have something to do with it.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
November 17th 2015


6850 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks, I'll definitely check it out and get back to you on that one, I don't know of enough good albums released between '81 and '87



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