A Flock Of Seagulls / Listen


Listen was the second album release by the UK synthpop band A Flock of Seagulls, released in 1983. It teamed the musical group with record producer Mike Howlett again, except on the single release “(It’s Not Me) Talking” which was produced by Bill Nelson. The record included the UK Top 10 hit “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)“. The shape of a person’s face on its sleeve cover is in fact the band’s drummer, Ali Score.

The Analysis:

[Wishing] If I Had A Photograph Of You—-I have a clear and vivid memory of this release that will stay with me forever. I remember moving into a ’employee dorm’ my first summer working at Cedar Point [an amusement park in Ohio] my first summer break from college and playing this record at full volume while unpacking. The entire dorm seemed to be impressed with this record and the initial release from INXS which was another favorite of mine at the time…ahhh memories! This track, a brilliant mix of synth heavy rhythms and actual guitars and drums, laid a framework for me…the 80’s for me, is one of the most important and formative years of music that was to come. Some will call this cheesy…I call it masterful and addictive. To me, this will always have a place in my heart and personal history.

Nightmares—-Coming right out of the gate with a darker sound than the debut release, this was the sound of a band that was struggling to comprehend the result of instant stardom. This track is heavily layered and screams with lyrics that are full of real human emotions and feelings. The nightmare…finding someone you love so deeply that is not able to understand you or your life. this for me, spoke volumes. Not to mention that the vocal and the synth deliveries are addictive as hell…still a favorite!

Transfer Affection—-This has always been my favorite track from this release. This is full of emotions, lyrics and moods that seemed to speak directly to me…and they still do…which is not to say much about my own personal emotional growth. The synth lines are loaded with a lonely feeling that is unescapable…the words are brilliant and the slight synth aggression that is delivered reminds you of the anger that you feel in yourself when your psyche turns off that emotional quality that makes up your entire being…needless to say, this kind of speaks to me.

What Am I Supposed To Do—-The beginning of this track has a remarkable Duran Duran sound that kicks me in the gut right away, but it all fades away to allow for the masterful synth lines that Score was able to produce. When Mike begins to sing in that upper register you just melt..the emotion is so naked and raw,,,you can relate to this song no matter where you are at in your personal development. We have all experienced the words to this track…running into a recent break up somewhere in a public place…this is heartbreaking and relateable…jeez I love this stuff!!!

Electrics—-This track, never really settling with me, is a bit too synth pop oriented for me. The sounds from the machines are a bit too abrasive…although it travel back to the few tracks from the debut release that set the whole New Wave community on fire…like Telecommuication. This is nice, but the effects are a bit abrasive and the vocal is manipulated enough that it almost alienates…perhaps that was the aim?

The Traveller—-I love this song…the track has a progressive synth line that never goes anywhere but seems to climb and climb with emotion. Mike Score delivers a vocal that is so full of urgency that you actually feel the need to look behind you to make sure that no one is following you. This is exquisite…some of the best 80’s synth pop that was ever made….evewn if it was largely ignored. This is a favorite…in case you could not tell.

2:30—-Beginning rather sedate and with a space-age feel, this is one of those requisite instrumentals that the band includes on every release that they produce. This is rather sedate and leads right into…..

Over The Border—-For me, one of the best compositions that this band has managed to come up with in its career. The drums on this track are incredible. The synth lines are among the best that were ever produced in the decade of the 80’s….the feelings of alienation and loneliness are everywhere and hidden in every corner that you turn on this song. The vocal is full of whispering new wave sounds that leave you cold and removed…all in all, this is pretty damn brilliant. Another really favorite track of mine from this release.

The Fall—-Over all of the years, and all of the releases, this is one of those tracks that I always reach for when I am very lonely and feeling rather isolated. This has a nice Joy Division bass sound that pounds into your brain and helps to remind you of your own miserable life…the vocals are full of haunting mysticism that allows you to gather a number of meanings from the song every time that you listen to it. this is haunting, empty and so full of remarkable emotion that your head spins on its axis!

[It’s Not Me] Talking—-To be honest, this has never been a really favorite track of mine. The synth delivery is pretty hyper kinetic…sometimes loosing focus for me. I love the vocal although it really seems set in a different synth delivery than the one that is delivered. Score always delivers a voice that defies his appearance…but the energy seems contrived and a bit unrealistic…none the less, the sound is consistent.

**** out of 5


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