Talk Talk
It's My Life


2.5
average

Review

by Chris Jackson USER (177 Reviews)
May 15th, 2006 | 32 replies


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist


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.



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user ratings (110)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
morrissey
Moderator
May 15th 2006


1688 Comments


This is more of my kind of thing than Laughing Stock, I love synth-pop. But to date I have only heard the title track. I think I would like this album despite your rating, which fits with your conclusion. Great review as always.

AlienEater
May 15th 2006


716 Comments


Never heard of them, but I'll give Laughing Stock a listen. Great review.

LF96
May 15th 2006


97 Comments


You should check out Spirit Of Eden. It's the album which came right before Laughing Stock and is practically the same style (post-rock that is). That being said, I haven't heard this album yet, and am not planning on doing it too recently, I hate most 80s synthy music.

steph b
May 15th 2006


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i don't understand the low rating of this record, to me it's
almost a classic. maybe everybody should listen better
GENIALE NUMMERS!!!This Message Edited On 05.15.06

The Jungler
May 15th 2006


4827 Comments


Not too into synth-pop, but I sorta want to get into Talk Talk.

Great review Zebra.

FA
May 17th 2006


127 Comments


Hmm, great review, I'll hafta check the album out.

Zorg
February 11th 2008


65 Comments


Hey look, they've always sucked. The only difference between this album and Laughing Stock is the level of arty pretentiousness.

Bouben
July 20th 2009


21 Comments


For Chris Jackson:

This album is good in it's genre. I don't understand the rating based on fact, that because you don't like the whole genre, you give album low rating. That should not be a review argument, but maybe a mention in final summary about your personal musical taste. It does not make any sense, to review album from genre you don't like. Albums can be compared between themself only in their genre borders. Hi.

mothman7
August 6th 2009


1 Comments


Hahaha, Talk talk invented Post Rock?? What in the sam hell are you talking about? First off, people never even said the words post and rock together at least until 2002. Secondly, It's my life sounds absolutely nothing like Devo or Oingo Boingo. To make such a ludicrus statement just shows just how absolutely unexperienced your ears are. Just because there are synthesizers on the recording doesn't make it sound like Devo. Not to mention if you've ever really listened to Devo, you'd know that their music was far more punk influenced than anything. Allbeit in a strange way, but listen to early works like Hardcore Devo Vol. 1 & 2, and the last thing you'd call it would be synth pop. Even whipit days of Devo sounding nothing like this album.

It's my live is a damn fine album. The production for the time is incredible and the mixture of synthesizers and natural sounding instruments make it unique in the genre. Also, if you like synthesizers, the synth work on this record is great. The patches used all are very original. There's some great sounds.



OllieS
August 6th 2009


2033 Comments


^ Apparently their album 'Laughing Stock' helped create Post-Rock, dude.

erasedcitizen
November 23rd 2009


716 Comments


The 80's were pop's best era.

swansbas
June 4th 2010


1 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I also think you should listen to Spirit of Eden! Wonderful soundscapes and a very good album tot listen to. There are also a few songs on The Colour of Spring which have the same style. I think all Talk Talk songs are very good and that's because of the change in musical is really enormous.

In 1998 Mark Hollis made an album which could be the 6th album of Talk Talk, with even more natural instruments. It it really beautiful.

Next to that, Talk Talk are often seen as the starters of postrock, just like Bark Psychosis. And they are also awesome. Talk Talk's drummer Lee Harris plays on ///Codename: Dustsucker.

(forgive for the poor Englisch, it is not my native language)

bloc
September 27th 2010


34927 Comments


Move over No Doubt

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2010


15052 Comments


hmm this band had some other albums didnt they

xfearbefore
October 29th 2010


1245 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not a very good review of a great album. Kind of silly to put this on expecting post-rock when the group was a synthpop/new wave outfit for the vast majority of their career. In the genre of synthpop, it's fantastic. "Its My Life" and "Such a Shame" are absolutely killer singles.

starry
November 16th 2010


552 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree with the comments about it being pointless to review it based on a dislike of a particular style. It takes some work and effort to understand a style so that you can look at it purely as music and not as just a style.

I can like both post-rock and synth pop so when I look at them I can look at them as music than just as a style. I don't know this album but the title track is certainly thought to be great by many including me (and the video is equally great).

starry
December 2nd 2010


552 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've been listening to this today and it actually sounds quite good. It has a good craft, tightness and memorability to the songs, more so than their next album which I like less.

bassm99
April 14th 2011


1 Comments


Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the review & rating for this album does defy belief. It's My Life & Laughing Stock are worlds apart in sound & style. Yes It's My Life is very 80's synth pop, but it was the 80's & that was the sound of the time. In saying that, it's so much more than just another pop album & in no way cheesy compared to other long forgotten chart drivel of the time. Each album they released they changed their sound & style, a more grown up approach. They were learning & progressing with each album.
Laughing Stock was basically a Mark Hollis solo album as Paul Webb had left & didn't feature on the album.
It's My Life is essential Talk Talk listening & just another step on a long journey for the band. Don't ignore this album, but embrace it.
Have this album in your collection, your life will be better for it.

KILL
February 24th 2012


71965 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

cool but kinda gay too

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

LifeAsAChipmunk
June 17th 2012


4854 Comments


It's pretty gay, but pretty good.



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