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Japan - Gentlemen Take Polaroids  CD (album) cover




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3.21 | 85 ratings

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4 stars Gentlemen take Polaroids is the fourth studio album in three years from Japan. The band has really developed their sound in those three years and from being only partially enjoyable on their first two albums they made a really good album with their third release called Quiet Life. Quiet Life was much more keyboard dominated than their first two releases and keyboardist Richard Barbieri ( now Porcupine Tree) really seemed to have a more prominant role in the band on that one. That tendency continues on Gentlemen take Polaroids which is a very keyboard/ synth heavy affair and very much ahead of itīs time if you ask me.

The music on Gentlemen take Polaroids reminds me of other early synth pop/ new wave bands from the early eighties like New Order, Depeche Mode, A-ha, Duran Duran and Talk Talk. Talk Talk has really listened to Japan for inspiration thatīs for sure. I hear many similarities between the two bands. Their art rock approach to the genre being the most obvious one. But certainly also because of the high compositional level of the music from both bands. Japan is not your average new wave band even though there are similarities between their music and the more light weight bands of that genre.

The songs are all excellent and even though this music might not appeal to many prog heads itīs still of a very high quality IMO. Songs like the title track, Swing ( with cool brass playing from Mick Karn) and Methods of Dance ( with what sounds like Kate Bush singing backing vocals?) are great songs while the more emotional and slow songs Burning Bridges and The Nightporter are excellent too. The bonus tracks on the 2004 CD-Remaster are in fact very good additions to the original album. Taking Islands in Africa appears in a remixed version that is even better than the original and we also get two unreleased songs in The Experience of Swimming and the beautiful instrumental The Width of a Room.

The musicianship is great here. David Sylvianīs voice is emotional and deeper than on the early releases. Iīm very fond of his singing style. Mick Karn takes the prize here though with his powerful and inventive basslines and his great sax and trombone moments.

The production is excellent. Much better than most other contemporary releases from other bands. Deep and soft, pleasant and emotional.

There are not many appreciative words about this album from other reviewers but let me state that I think this album is excellent and deserves 4 stars regardless of what others might think. This is not truly progressive but less will do when the music is as good as this. Fans of the three first Talk Talk albums should definitely take a listen here even though Gentlemen take Polaroids is much better than the first two albums from Talk Talk. Iīm really happy that I have discovered Japan and to think that I have found them via a progressive rock site is pretty strange and ironic too.

UMUR | 4/5 |


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