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Thelast of the New Romatics,
This review is from: Tin Drum (Audio CD)
The band debuted on record with the 1978 album Adolescent Sex and followed up with Obscure Alternatives. Both albums sold well in Japan (where the band's name helped them to gain a devoted cult following) However in their native Britain those albums were largely ignored. Though influenced by artists such as the New York Dolls, Roxy Music and David Bowie, both albums were widely dismissed by the British music press as being distinctly outmoded at a time when punk and New Wave bands were in ascendence. Their third album, 1979's Quiet Life, heralded a significant change in musical style from the earlier largely guitar-based music to a more electronic sound, Their final two studio albums, Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980) and Tin Drum (1981), were released on the Virgin label, and continued to expand their audience as the band refined its new sound and, somewhat unintentionally, became associated with the early-1980s New Romantic movement.
Tin Drum in particular is one of the most innovative albums of the 1980s, with its startlingly original fusion of occidental and oriental sounds. With personality conflicts leading to rising tensions between band members, Tin Drum was to be the band's final studio album. The group's final UK performance came in November 1982, culminating in a six-night sell-out stint at London's Hammersmith Odeon. Tin Drum remains Japan's most Eastern-influenced album. It's all there in the song titles of course. This, their final effort, showed the band really becoming what they'd always wanted to be all through their career: An art-rock band, with aspirations towards the musicianly end of what pop could aspire to. Ironically as the band disintegrated following this release, they finally shook off the sub-Roxy Music/glam goth associations that had hampered them in earlier years. Tin Drum is, in places wonderfully minimalist and exotically esoteric. On top of this Sylvian's voice had matured beyond the aforementioned Ferry-lite comparisons. His mournful deep-throated trills suited songs that explored lost love and the fascination with all things Eastern. As with fellow so-called new romantics, Duran Duran, these boys almost straddled the line marked 'muso', yet avoided crassness with the simple application of taste. Tin Drum has no flashy waste or needless bombast, just evocative skill that remains fresh to this day.