I have said in my review of Kate Bush's "The Hounds of Love" that that is the best album of the 1980s. This one comes a very close second.
It is very rare for a pop album to be as original, ground-breaking and perfect as this one. It is a thrilling blend of stark-sounding early Human League and the newer, warmer sound they forged with the addition of the two girls. It is packed full of gorgeous tunes, any one of which could have been a hit (and 4 were).
"Things That Dreams Are Made Of"
For a 12 year-old boy in 1980s suburban England, this was an exciting glimpse into the glamourous world of travel as Oakey sang about driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and march march marching across Red Square, while also name-checking Norman Wisdom and ice-cream. A few of his favourite things. Wouldn't catch Julie Andrews singing about them, though, and certainly not in that gorgeous baritone!
"Open Your Heart"
My favourite Human League song and one of the best pop songs ever written. It is such a strong song that the verses sound like choruses with their uplifting hooklines. Play it to a friend who is depressed. If it doesn't cheer them up then they must be dead.
"Sound of the Crowd"
To anyone tarting themselves up ready for a night out, get ready to this song. That's it, lard on the slap, nice and glam now!
When I first heard this song, I was genuinely scared. It is Stephen King set to music. Oakey's apocalyptic (I like that word) vocals and the church-organ-like synths, plus the desperate lyrics make a potent combination.
"Do or Die"
I still don't know what this song is about but who cares? I just love the rasping synth sound and tribal drum patterns.
The album's only instrumental and inspired by the Michael Caine film of the same name.
"I Am The Law"
Inspired by Judge Dredd, this song is most reminiscent of early Human League - minimalist, stern and dominated by Oakey's vocal. I love the way he prolongs the last word "law" as the song slides down into the next one, which then lifts you up again. Great juxtaposition.
Considering its subject matter - the assassination of President Kennedy - this song is surprisingly poppy. Probably one of the first ever songs to be written about stalking.
"Love Action (I Believe In Love)"
I always used to think that the beginning of this song sounded like a cat going "miaow, miaow, miaow"... Great tune when it gets going though, and apparently a bit of a confessional.
"Don't You Want Me"
What can I say? This track consistently turns up on the "100 Greatest Songs"-type programmes and deservedly so. It charts the story of a cocktail waitress plucked from obscurity and made into a star by a man she no longer loves. The man is simultaneously threatening and pleading, the woman defiant and the song, gorgeous. Avoid Snap's remix, though, if you ever come across it.
A perfect synthpop album which has stood the test of time with not a duff tune in sight.