NEW YORK 1982 REVIEWS

 

New York Times May 1982
Stephen Holden

AMONG the rash of new English synthesizer-oriented bands that have been lumped together under the catchword electropop, the Human League is the most melodic, as well as the most intellectually edifying. The band's best tunes echo the sleek, international-style pop hooks of the Swedish supergroup Abba.

And their lyrics, which wittily handle such themes as assassination and the common lust for consumer pleasures, combine a crisp telegraphic concision with a special psychological acuity.

But alas, electropop has yet to be compellingly presented on a New York stage. At the Palladium on Friday, the sextet made a valiant attempt to gussy up a static, prefab style with a lively slide show. But the instrumental lineup of three synthesizers, bass and a drum machine overpowered the three front vocalists, making them sound more automated than they do on disk. Above all, the failure of live electropop concerts to animate audiences can be attributed to the monotonous, robotic pulse of synthesized drums. Without live rhythm, the key elements of surprise and emotional spontaneity that one expects at a concert were conspicuously absent.