FASCINATION! REVIEWS

 

Rolling Stone May 1983

Kurt Loder

Have these people been vacationing or what? Nearly two years after the British release of their ravishing synth-pop album Dare, the Human League has finally unleashed a follow up – and it’s an EP, containing two singles previously released in England, one B side and one dub-style “improvisation” on the title tune that cost-conscious consumers will recognize as 6:12 of pure filler. But wait: the lead track, “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” (the League’s latest single), is a hit. It starts off with a bright flourish of synthesized brass, brings in a thick, rich funk beat, then piles the brass back on and adds basso vocal interjections that recall Sly Stone. Phil Oakey’s broad, Bowile-like baritone adds an amusing touch to the brigde – which is just as hooky as the chorus – and the song even has an upbeat message of sorts: “Keep feeling fascination/Looking, learning, moving on”.

“Mirror Man”, the band’s first post-Dare English single, is a Motown homage that’s not as immediately grabby as “Fascination”, but it does kick in after a few listens. Of the remaining tracks, “Hard Times” is a simple riff decked out with one of rock’s most venerable bass lines and some razor-sharp synthesizer squeals; the beat-heavy “I Love You Too Much” might almost qualify as late-period psychedelia, had it been recorded with guitars; and the “omprovisation” on “Fascination” is a clever studio montage that almost makes it on sheer danceability. Despite the recent departure of producer Martin Rushent, the man responsible for the League’s lush electrofunk sound, one suspects the band will be ble to maintain its fame on native smarts alone. Let’s hope they prove it on their next record – a full album, please – and let’s hope it arrives soon.

***˝

 

Billboard May 1983

Although they’ve since joined forces with producer Chris Thomas (Pretenders, Elton John), the League’s final sessions with Martin Rushent dovetail handsomely with their work on last year’s U.S. debut set. This mini-album is already presold to dance and new music fans, thanks to the presence of “Mirror Man” and the title hit, which appears in two separate versions here. It’s bouncy, melodic electronic pop from one of the field’s first success stores.

 

NME July 1990 new

Stuart Maconie

...the League returned to the charts with their goofiest effort yet. For a start there's  those he-has-to-be-kidding 'Hey heys', then there's the clod-hopping middle eight. Best (or worst) of all was the sequenced main riff. Were they drunk? Were they taking the piss? A split second out of sync with the backing track, even the tone deaf looked up from their lager when it came on the jukebox and banged the side of their head in disbelief.


www.cmj.com new
Ethlie Ann Vare

Between the League Unlimited Orchestra and Heaven 17 - not to mention half a dozen personnel changes within the Human League itself - it's hard to recognize the players without a scorecard. But what we have here is the same sextet who topped the charts with "Don't You Want Me" (Phil Oakey, Jo Callis, Susan Sulley, Adrian Wright, Ian Burden, Joanne Cathrell) and that record's producer Martin Rushent. However, the EP was remixed by the League's new producer, Chris Thomas, and it's anybody's guess which musicians will appear on the full album. So what do you get for your $6.98? Six songs, two of which are the nifty dance tune "Fascination." There's the single, "Mirror Man" (which is good), and a couple of other things already available in England. Then, A & M assures, you have "I Love You Too Much" which, the record company insists, will only and forever be available on this disc. Too bad it isn't a better song. Do credit the Human League with pouncing on the deadly dull top 40 and breaking techno-pop to the mainstream audience. Don't credit them with much depth or consistency (Dare was, after all, overrated even as a trendy import). Taken simply as good dance floor fodder, Fascination serves well its noble

 

www.cmj.com new
It's no longer enough to be the Human League- you have to be human, too. The stripped-bare synth-dance emotionlessness of "Don't You Want Me" isn't that "pop"-ular anymore; so Phil and the crew have taken on added dimension. They boast a new vocal and instrumental sophistication, most notably on the title cut and the recent import single "Mirror Man." "Fascination," the U.S. single, supports it's synths with horns and vocals which sound right out of the `60s, and should be one of the summers hottest records. "Mirror Man" will make a terrific follow-up, as it provides a deeper glimpse into the Human League's newfound soulfullness.
 

 

Uncut Magazine 2001 new

David Stubbs

More titular parentheses. A great League moment, this, with its decaying synth-pop riff and manifesto-like sentiments...