Review Summary: Is it the post rock we know Talk Talk for? No. Is it good synthpop? Absolutely.
Talk Talk is one of the more interesting collectives in all of popular music. The once Duran Duran infused with Roxy Music group soon became one of the forefathers for post rock, creating both Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock, two of the most critically acclaimed albums of the 20th century. These two albums, along with their third release, The Color Of Spring (which is a perfect blend of jazz-esque structures with an art rock sound) often overshadow the first two releases in Talk Talk's discography, this and their sophomore release, It's My Life. However, these should not be written off as bad records simply due to the fact that they do not compare to the better albums in Talk Talk's collection of albums. Their debut, The Party's Over, is often viewed as "just another new wave album" from the early 80s, and represented the band in their more pop=oriented beginning. Keeping that in mind, this is an incredibly fun record, that, given its time period, has aged better than the other synthpop relics that vanished into obscurity towards the end of the 80s.
I am going to get this out of the way right from the get-go: this album is FULL of 80s cheese. Plucky synth chords, deep, analog basses, and Simmons drums are all over the record. From the exterior, it seems like your typical new wave album. But Talk Talk has one advantage; Mark Hollis. Hollis is easily one of the most interesting musicians of our time, and his vocal delivery was unlike any of their contemporaries. Some like to point to Hollis as sounding similar to Bryan Ferry, the lead singer of Roxy Music, whose producer, coincidently produced this album. While that comparison does hold, Hollis's delivery is very different to that of Ferry's. Hollis sings in a weird mix of a whisper and a shout, and isn't afraid to belt out high notes that drastically alter his voice from its normal sound. It's one of the key traits that make Hollis such a captivating singer to listen to. "Today" best shows Hollis's unique voice, with the beginning verses involve him singing in a lower, whisper voice. But once the background singers scream "Today!" and Hollis belts "It's a dream away!" you immediately notice the difference in his style.
These carry over into other tracks on the record, including the self titled song "Talk Talk," which feature large drums, and even larger synths. The rest of the record is your typical new wave affair, and all of the tracks have some appeal to them. That is with the exception of "Mirror Man." I have listened to all 5 of the Talk Talk records, and this is, without a doubt, their worst song. It starts out promising enough, but once it gets into the chorus, Hollis and the other background vocalists sound like they are choking, it took me by surprise the first time I heard it. It was annoying to enough to anger me slightly, and I just skipped the track all together. Giving it a second listen, it got slightly better due to the nice synth break during the bridge, and the violins and other strings are a nice touch as well, but not enough to save the song entirely.
If Talk Talk had stopped after It's My LIfe, they probably would have been a forgotten about synthpop band that would fade into obscurity like many other small bands of the same genre tended to do. But with their colorful history, the first and second album stand as an early stage of Talk Talk, that many look at when examining the band as a whole. The Party's Over not only stands as the first music of the later incredible band, but a solid synthpop album as well.