Talk Talk - The Party's Over (1982), 6/10

Talk Talk’s debut record may initially feel like platitudinal synthpop but is thankfully untethered from the tired tropes and echoes of repetition that make the genre largely uninteresting. Not everything here is entirely unique, but Hollis’ individual voice mixed with the band’s ever-inventive approach to songwriting make the listening experience something special, growing even more interesting with time despite its general simplicity. Regardless of sharing textures with simple synthpop of the era, there are an interesting array of sounds buried in these songs that reflect a creative approach to modifying the existing palette. There is certainly an aspect of this particular album and its follow-up that you will likely either enjoy or hate, but the better tracks transcend this quality through exceptionally strong narratives. For instance, the chanting chorus of “Today” irritates an otherwise masterfully crafted song, while the title track and “Have You Heard the News?” lean into composition methods that are later explored on The Colour of Spring to great effect. So yes, The Party’s Over is held back by its own style in moments, but also benefits from its energy in others in multiple ways. Whether using the drive of buoyant synths or the lethargy of melancholic tones, there are more hits than misses. For whatever reason there seems to be a lack of synchronization between chorus and verse in some tracks (see “Hate”) that creates an awkward pause in momentum in what otherwise could be one of the best synthpop records of the decade. Instrumental refrains like the one heard in “Have You Heard the News” work better with Hollis’ delivery and the band’s writing style. When untethered from the predominant styles of the early eighties, Talk Talk would create more interesting music, but their debut shows great promise and a surprising early integrity in writing and methodology that would only be improved with time.