The Departure - Dirty Words

2006-03-30 05:46

At first glance, it's hard to see how anyone could be nostalgic about the 1980s. In many ways, this was a tragic, shameful decade. It was ruled by the most corrupt and morally reprehensible socio-political system South Africa will ever see (let's hope). As if that weren't enough, the 80s were also infected with styles in hair, fashion and music that could only exist if some omnipotent force beyond our comprehension wanted to punish us, and a plague of festering boils was barely severe enough to cover the extent of our crimes.

But if you dig a little deeper than mainstream popular culture, you'll find a goldmine of alternative styles and music. For example, bands like The Cure and Joy Division gave us fashion statements as well as some stunningly beautiful music.

Unfortunately, very few of these musical treasures feature in those unbearable '80s revival parties which, instead, choose to focus on the uber-kitch (A-Ha), the banal (Duran Duran) and the embarrassing (Wham!). It seemed as if anyone too young to have experienced the decade would never get the chance to appreciate its musical innovations - until now.

A whole new crop of retro bands have arrived with a sound loosely based on (bless them) good '80s music - and The Departure is the latest arrival with their debut, Dirty Words.

Technically, the album is polished to a squeaky cleanliness, and like the best '80s alt pop, produced with such clinical perfection you could eat your lunch off it. Musically, this is the album The Cure would have recorded if they weren't so depressed when they did Pornography, and perhaps if they were working with Echo and the Bunnymen. In other words, it's pretty damn good - even if you've heard it all before, and sometimes heard it done better.

Many critics have hammered retro bands like The Departure, Interpol, The Killers and The Bloc Party because they've "brought nothing new to modern music", but to criticize them for being derivative is missing the point entirely. We're undoubtedly living in a post-modern age, where imitation is the new inspiration, and artists are judged not on what they create, but on from whom they choose to borrow.

The Departure have borrowed well.

- Chris McEvoy

" over-reliance on pastiche wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that a) they're running in grooves created by the wheels of the bandwagon they've arrived too late to jump on and b) they tackle it all in the most hopeless, hapless, school talent show cover band style of derivation imaginable.
- Dom Passantino for

it transcends being just a mere mash of influences.
- John Doran for

What was good about the 1980s? If you really want to know, listen to The Departure. A new band influenced by the decade whose popular face of mullets, Ronald Reagan, overspending and Wham! hides greatly underestimated pop subcultures.

Reiste 2005/10/13 12:51 PM
Did the 80's have bad grammar? Paragraph 2, line 4: "As if that weren't enough..." *WASN'T*, for heaven's sake! Yes, there was some bad stuff in the 80s. Much is mentioned in the article. But they are all the pop groups from the 80s. Everyone always forgets some the brilliant rock and metal groups that were founded or came of age in the 80s. Rush, Judas Priest, Van Halen, The Police and so forth were all big in the 80s, but everyone only seems to remember the kitchness of Buggles. If this CD is up to The Cure's standards, then it's worth a look, says I. On the other hand, if this group is still stuck in the 80s, maybe they have some catching up to do. It is 2005, after all. They're like, SO two decades ago. :P Ayreon - The Human Equation
Yvonne 2005/10/13 1:24 PM
The Departure Reiste, it is correct to use 'were' instead of 'was' if preceeded by 'if', even in the negative. Enough of that, the '80s spawned a great deal of bad fashion but the music was truly groundbreaking. Sure, the chart stuff was often crap but no worse than the Frog Song that was lapped up by the army of sheep not so long ago. I too will give this band a listen but I doubt it will compare to the latest Depeche Mode, now there's a band that ruled the 80s! Watershed - Mosaic
Henry 2005/10/13 6:53 PM
God save us all... Listening to the clips I was sadly reminded that that the 80's never should have happened. Cheesy snare drums and awfull keyboard solos ruled, Micahel Jackson was black and Billy Idol actually still had money (scuse the pun). Phew...
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.