Talk Talk are often known for creating the post-rock genre. In 1991 they released their final album Laughing Stock
and it is often considered a ďmust have" post-rock classic. Iíve owned the album for quite some time and didnít even attempt to listen to any of Talk Talkís earlier material simply because I was almost positive it would be inferior to the beautiful Laughing Stock
. Without any guidance or knowledge over the bands earlier work I went out and picked up Itís My Life
for a few bucks in the used albums bucket.
When I got threw the first two or three songs I was both shocked and mildly disappointed. I was expecting some mellow, calm and post-rock influenced music but instead I got some cheesy 80's new-wave. Itís My Life
contains sugary keyboard lines, upbeat guitar riffs, and many groovy melodies and rhythms. The music is very jittery and spontaneous, the overall sound of the album is similar to bands like Oingo Boingo and Devo. If you arenít a fan of joyful, somewhat cheesy new-wave music then I would stay away from this one regardless of how much you enjoy Laughing Stock
The key to It's My Life
is Mark Hollis's strange vocal delivery. The man has a high pitched, spastic voice and he almost sounds like he is about to have a nervous breakdown. Like various new-wave vocalist instead of singing the words in an easy going voice Hollis reaches for the high notes and decides to wail them out regardless of how gay he sounds. In result his voice can grow both tiresome and annoying. This is the biggest aspect of what makes the music so damn cheesy, while his voice is cheerful and peppy he gives the music an entertaining and lively atmosphere.
There are nine songs on Itís My Life
and although this is a new-wave album it has surprisingly good range. The albums opener Dum Dum Girl
was a single and it contains all of the elements needed to be a successful one. The song is basically a simple drum beat, a mellow, semi-funky bassline and Hollisís soft voice. Then the chorus comes in and takes you by complete surprise. The keyboards really explode creating a synthed out vibe along with Marks high pitched wailing. Dum Dum Girl
is without a doubt a catchy tune but it sounds a little crowded and wears thin after multiple listens. The title track, Itís My Life
is another cheese pop song although it is well written and not as boisterous as the opener. This time the music focuses on keyboard bleeps and guitar riffs and the atmosphere of the song is quite refined and not as jittery as most of the album. Hollis delivers a dreamy chorus and it almost sounds like a song that would be playing at a Las Vegas Casino. The Last Time
follows this poppy trend and is the title tracks twin brother. Another twinkly keyboard line is played throughout the verses and western influenced guitar licks play in the background. All in all Talk Talk do a pretty good job at creating new-wave synth pop songs but at points they can get almost to joyful and ecstatic.
The highlights on Itís My Life
are the tracks that are experimental and hint towards a much more mellow and relaxing feel. Renee
is the lengthiest song off the album clocking in at around six and a half minutes. Itís calm, shiny guitar line is both soothing and breezy creating a peaceful atmosphere. Hollisís vocals are focusing on love and although the lyrics may sound a bit sappy the guitar playing and keyboard dynamics overshadow them creating a laid-back gem. Does Caroline Know
is something that you will find playing on a Jamaican island. The timpani percussion work along with the passive guitar scales give both the song and the album a more chilled out and less crowded aspect. This is another song that you will find yourself kicking back to and enjoying.
The problem with Itís My Life
is that there are many minor aspects which bring the album down. First off the song lengths range from four to six minutes long and while this doesnít seem to bad just remember that this isnít post-rock. Choruses are often recycled along with various guitar riffs and buzzing keyboard noises making the album a tiresome slightly repetitive listen. Donít get me wrong each song is unique and shows something different but they wear thin after just a few listens. That being said Itís My Life
contains some quality pop songs and a few gems but it wonít last in your walkman for a very long time.
If you keep on making constant comparisons to Laughing Stock
then it is nearly impossible to enjoy this album. Itís difficult to accept Itís My Life
at first, the album jumps from laid-back guitar driven songs to boisterous synth-pop tunes focusing on keyboards and wailed vocals. There is no doubt about it, if you enjoy new-wave music chances are that you will enjoy most of Itís My Life
but if youíre not a fan of the genre then itís wise to stay away from it.