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Talk Talk - It's My Life CD (album) cover


Talk Talk


Crossover Prog

3.15 | 130 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
4 stars TALK TALK didn't set the world on fire with their debut album "The Party's Over" but it did gain them some success with a top 40 hit in the UK as well as a hit album in New Zealand. Joining the ranks of the synthpop rich New Wave scene of the MTV early 80s, Mark Hollis and his band attracted enough attention to keep the momentum going. Two years after their debut, they unleashed a sophomore followup in the form of IT'S MY LIFE which continued to ride the 80s New Wave where they fine tuned their unique sound that cross-pollinated the art rock of Roxy Music with the synthpop of bands like Duran Duran and the Human League as well as the New Romantic sounds of bands like Spandau Ballet and ABC. While the debut focused more on catchy upbeat synthesizer laced pop hooks, IT'S MY LIFE focuses more on the New Romantic strain of the New Wave 80s with those same crooning vocals that emphasized a sense of melancholy.

While more renowned in the 21st century for their innovative post-rock origins of their later albums, TALK TALK were also quite the masters of producing slickly produced New Wave pop with nine tracks of soulful catchy grooved tracks that took carefully construed compositions and added the proper elements to craft some of the best of the genre. IT'S MY LIFE exercised the approach of the debut with fretless bass, rich atmospheric keyboards, infectious melodic hooks and heartbreaking emotional tugs. This second album was a huge hit in many countries including Switzerland, Netherlands and Germany but also faired well in their native UK and just missed the Billboard Top 40 album charts. The title track and "Such A Shame" were relatively well received singles but TALK TALK ultimately failed to hit the same big time as other bands were experiencing during the New Wave 80s which is probably why they would transmogrify their sound significantly on the following "The Colour Of Spring."

IT'S MY LIFE has an uncredited performance by Mike Oldfield's bass player, Phil Spalding who sat in for Paul Webb on the track "The Last Time." The band, while still showing no clear signs of their post-rock future, do however implement a more sophisticated sound that in hind sight offers a glimpse into a more advanced musical approach. Although IT'S MY LIFE is merely credited to the team of Mark Hollis (vocals, guitar), Paul Webb (fretless bass) and Lee Harris (drums,) there are an additional seven guest musicians that play keyboards, piano, guitars, percussion and trumpet. As on the debut, the percussion is quite varied and offers a nice mix that deviated from the standard drum machine dreariness that many contemporary bands in the New Wave world were implementing. The trumpet on the title track, "Tomorrow Started" and "Renée" indicates a desire for a jazzier approach to the music and by following this route would lead to the extended jazz-rock turned post-rock of the albums "Spirit Of Eden" and "Laughing Stock."

While many New Wave fans can't stand post-rock and vice versa, i personally find both sides of TALK TALK's journey to be brilliantly composed. A telltale sign of a musical genius is the ability to transcend genre restrictions and Mark Hollis demonstrates equal brilliance on these early New Wave synthesized first pair of albums that display some of the best offerings that the subgenre cranked out. While clearly steeped in the synthesizer rich synthpop that launched their career, the baby steps for upping their game were planted on IT'S MY LIFE without sacrificing the catchy melodic hooks so abundant on "The Party's Over." I'm not really sure which of the first two TALK TALK albums win me over the most because each has its own charm but if the New Romantic aspect of the New Wave scene is your preference then you can't really go wrong with this one. This would be the last New Wave album for TALK TALK and starting with the next album, the band would opt for a more art rock approach with even more baby steps into the fledgling universe of post-rock.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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