Friday, 20 February 2015

Berlin "Pleasure Victim" (1982)

Searching for something a little out of my comfort zone I stumbled across "Berlin", an 80s Synthpop group who despite their name are from America, not Germany. Checking out this band in brief was a bit of a trip, a throwback to a scene barely recognizable in modern culture, but only in terms of looks and fashion. Synthpop left a resounding influence in pop and electronic music that can still be felt today, and despite a limited knowledge of the genre, this sounded like a prime example of the sound in its retroactive peak. This was when pop music exploded with rich keyboard synthesizer leads and catchy melodies, an emergence that leads us back to Krafwerk. "Pleasure Victim" went platinum in the states, it took ten years to do so, but now its success seems like something washed away in a ever evolving musical landscape.

Opening with a rigid and plastic electro bass lead, it doesn't take long for the retro sound to kick in as a hyped, glistening synth lead bursts into the fold with an almost cliche melodic lead. Rich synth strings fill the space behind as laser zaps and explosion sounds play away in the background alongside a condensed drum kit that sounds narrow and contained, but of course fitting of this style. Terri Nunn's vocals were initially a turn off, theres a raw authenticity to her voice that felt slightly contrasting to the music, there is a distance created between her traditional singing style and the glistening synths, which as time went on I found to be one of the more enjoyable chemistries on the record. Occasional guitar leads and overdriven chords bring some rock to what is fairly unadventurous record which exemplifies the Synthpop sound.

The record is short and sweet, across the 29 minutes 7 numbers play out with catchy infectious melodies that border cheesy, depending on your taste. The song "Sex (I'm A...)" grows into a cringe fest as moans and groans infest the track as it progresses. Its a thick slice of cheese between two enjoyable sides of a sandwich, which was easy to digest. After repeated listens I felt there was a lack of depth, light and cheerful on the surface the songs were simple pleasures of glittery sound of hooky melodies, but only a couple of songs had the character to stick in the mind. A worthwhile listen, but nothing especially great unless your really keen on Synthpop.

Favorite Songs: The Metro, World Of Smiles
Rating: 5/10