Beauty and the Beat (1981)
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Our Lips Are Sealed 10/10
This is a nice, inoffensive, happy, unpretentious and catchy new wave song, and this is exactly why I enjoy listening to new wave so much. I'll go a step further and say this is exactly how pop music is supposed to sound like. It's not just the phenomenally catchy melody, but it's the instrumentation as well. They're not relying on overblown or slick instrumentation (the main reason why Hilary Duff's version falls so short). It's just the simple new wave combo. Drum beat, the Carsian rapid rhythm guitars, some keyboards, and electric guitars come up in the chorus. The singing's brilliant, too. They sound like real people. And that, my friends, means this real music.
How Much More 8.5/10
The principles I touched upon in the previous track review still applies. They sound like real musicians. They're not enormously gifted singers, but they're geniune! Unfortunately they're also falliable and they're not really capable of coming up with more than one infectious song per album. The general structure of the song is rather charming, especially how they incorporate that section with thunderous drum beats. However, the melody just isn't that interesting.
What's this, some Adam Ant posturing? ... Or am I just imaging that? Geez, I've been listening to a lot of '80s pop albums lately. Again, the Go-Go's don't fail to be charming, and this is far from ordinary corporate pop. The melody has its points of interest, but there aren't really any major hooks here. I like those twinkly guitars at the end of this.
Lust to Love 9/10
Very nice! This track begins with some hypnotic guitars as one of the girls sings over it. It sounds as unpretentious as possible. But not too soon, an excellent new wave tune pops up. The guitar crunches are wonderful! This sounds much more dramatic than what's been presented before, but they're being convincing at it, so there's no room to complain. Most importantly, I like the melody and these excellent chord progressions.
This Town 9/10
This is really similar to the previous track in both structure and quality. It intermittently goes between a rather bare part involving rapidly played rhythm guitar and then it explodes into a catchy chorus. Well, this is another charmer, and it constitutes one of the finer non-hits of the album! The guitar is really resembling those spaghetti western styles of our friend Adam Ant. Well, the Go-Gos were obviously big fans...
We Got the Beat 10/10
When they have a hit, they really have a hit. This is just about as classic as "Our Lips Are Sealed." This one's features thunderous and awesomely fun drums at its core; it's such a fresh throwback to surf music. Most importantly it has a phenomenally catchy melody! The section where they strip it down to percussion and clapping (with the alleged hope to inspire audience participation upon listeners) doesn't work in most contexts, but it does here. Yes, this has more of that insufferable charm! Why should they ever let it end?
Fading Fast 9.5/10
Yeah, why should it ever end? It's not as infectious as the two hits, but it's surprisingly close, and it's just as charming. This is a sweet and smooth song is incredibly fun to hear. More of that innocent pop music that you don't have to feel guilty for enjoying. The arrangements are particularly well done here; I especially enjoy that textured keyboard sound.
Wow. This is kind of awesome. It's not great, but it actually works more or less. They're adopting a much more robotic tone here, and it's really charming. I don't want you to imagine this being a synth-pop song; this is still their genuine brand of new wave music with the usual set of instruments. They just found this funny gimmick that always manages to catch me off guard whenever I listen to this --- and I mean that in a good way. I think the way they open this song is classic. The lead singer goes "Automatic-ic-ic-ic" as if she had a temporary glitch and then the drum rhythm changes. You'll have to listen to it! It's great!! There are moments when they make these extended pauses, which is usually a bad idea, but the Go-Go's time it perfectly so it turns out to be an asset. This song ends up proving to me that they're far beyond the average pop band.
You Can't Walk in Your Sleep (If You Can't Sleep) 8.5/10
This is more of a usual, upbeat new wave tune with more of those carefree, good times. The instrumentation is the best aspect of this one. It's so bouncy and danceable that I'm holding back the urge to bob my head with it! The sounds are very crisp and just a buttload of fun. Of course the melody is catchy as well. The big beef I have is the way they end this song... In fact, more of the way they *don't* end this song. It just stops abruptly. Eh........
Skidmarks On My Heart 8.5/10
More of those thunderous drums although they're seemingly less warranted with this song. But what am I comparing that to, "We Got the Beat?" Actually, this is another fine song! The chorus is very infectious although the rest of the song isn't quite as such. The instrumentation is thunderous and genuine once again. These ladies are certainly not ones to disappoint in that category.
Can't Stop the World 8/10
You can't stop the world, but do you have to stop this album? I'm having so much fun! Well, I have to say this wasn't the ideal way to end the album. I mean, it's perfectly entertaining and there's that youthful edge to it that characterizes the Go-Go's spirit so well, but it doesn't have a personal quirk or gimmick that so many of the other compositions had. I'd say this song has the least personality of them all!!! ... Well, it's still "carefree" and that's definitely something!
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Hey, what were you expecting, "LIGHT MY FIRE??" No way, man. They are the Go-Go's and they make no excuses. Gosh, the comfortable thing about this album right from the beginning is they sound exactly like they did in the debut. Sure, they lost a little bit of their edge, but surprisingly as little as humanly possible. I can't say that "Vacation" is quite as infectious as "Our Lips Are Sealed," but it's remarkably close. If anything their sense of harmonies has increased since the first album --- they sure seem to know how to do chord progressions, which is a major part of the reason this song sounds so great. I can't forget to mention that the melody is catchy, and the smooth flow and mood is enough to make me happy. I guess that means listening to this song is just like vacation! Hey, I like vacation!!
He's So Strange 9.5/10
Wow, what a mood. Geez, they're using a minor chord sequence aren't they? That delivers quite a menacing mood, and I'm drawn into it right from the beginning. It's still hopelessly poppy thanks to the upbeat new wave beat and the smooth flow. The melody is good, but the real highlight is the perfect instrumentation. They have such a good handle on their instruments, and they don't ruin it with excessive synthesizer sounds. I especially love those crunchy guitar licks in the middle! Yummy!!
Girl of 100 Lists 9/10
They're continuing to deliver the goods! Other than the usual, fast-paced new wave instrumentation, this sounds like a ... er ... pirate shanty! How funny!! Anyway, they're still keeping their happy, upbeat flavor to their music. They're certainly not very diverse, but whatever. They're keeping it fun. The chord progression is certainly unique, and this is such a fun song to hear!
We Don't Get Along 8/10
This continues to be inoffensive new wave music with a happy beat, and it's as fun as ever. But, this one lacks a certain distinctive flavor. The three previous songs were distinct in their own way, but this track seems like a toss-off. Just ordinary new wave without gimmicks and a melody that's almost uninteresting! I will say that the crunchy guitar is mightily tasty, though.
I Think It's Me 9/10
Hey, bring me summa that surf-guitar! Whenever the Go-Go's emulate surf-rock, they seem to come off best. The melody isn't so much catchy, but that surf riff certainly is. As expected, this song has such nice flow; they're not letting our new wave party go!
It's Everything But Partytime 7.5/10
...er, maybe they are letting the new wave party go. Oh well. I can imagine that they probably started the songwriting process on this song thinking that they needed to write a ballad sometime. After all, how can you expect someone to appreciate an album that's just full of new wave dance song! Well, they still had to include an upbeat section, because it was pretty boring! ... Unfortunately, this is where the Go-Go's melodic limitations really begins to surface in a bad way. I will say that I enjoy the instrumentation.
Get Up and Go 7.5/10
Oh yeah, those Adam Ant drums will never get old!!! (I'm not being sarcastic; I genuinely like those thunderous drums.) This is another one of their upbeat songs that you can get up and dance to it without even paying attention! Hey, the drumming is great!! The problem is, however, that I'm sitting down and paying attention to it, and the melody is pretty dang bland. It's one of their worst melodies so far in their career. Fortunately, that doesn't keep this song from being fun anyway.
This Old Feeling 8.5/10
Much better! Don't you see what a nice melody can do to a song? It makes it even more fun even though the drumming isn't quite as vivaceous. The star of this show is that saxophone in the instrumental interlude. It's not a cheesy sax, either! They keep it rough, raw and real. Lovely!!
Cool Jerk 7/10
Why the hell did they need to do this? They were always perfectly capable of writing their own material, so what's the deal with this cover? ... Most importantly, why is it so boring? Technically, I have nothing against covers, but only when the band actually makes it interesting. Carlisle does this audience participation thing in the middle of it, and I'm, like, just sitting here and shrugging my shoulders. This is such a disappointment!!
The Way You Dance 8/10
Yay!! This is another one of their excellent, carefree new wave tunes! This one's quite a lot of fun, and I'm bouncing up and down with glee. Unfortunately, this isn't one iota different than what they've done before, so --- well, I just don't have anything much to say about it.
Beatnik Beach 8/10
I bet you can guess what this song sounds like. Oh yeah!!! New wave surf-rock! My favorite!!! I'm half expecting some pirate-clad new waver to hollar "WIPE OUT!!!" The surf guitars are as fun as ever, and those thunderous drums are still quite fun. As someone who pretends to be a music critic, I'm really wishing they would do something less predictable. But I have to recognize that this song is a lot of fun, and that's worth a lot! Unfortunately, the melody isn't enticing. This is all spirit but no tune!
Worlds Away 9/10
Hey, here's something different! It's a mid-tempoed tune. It's not a ballad, so they're not quite to that point of diversity. I like this smooth pace, and the melody is quite catchy. The instrumentation is a little synth heavier than they've been known for being, but this is still that great new wave band. I think they might have still made some creative arrangements, but there's not much to complain about here. This is a nice closer to the album 'cos it makes me smile.
Talk Show (1984)
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Head Over Heels 9.5/10
This has nuttin' over the ABBA composition of the same name, but this is a pretty dang good pop song just the same. This continues down The Go-Go's tradition of penning delightful songs with a catchy melody and a youthful exuberance. It's not quite as splendid as "Vacation," but it's enjoyable just the same. It's much more heavily produced than their previous songs, but fortunately it doesn't adhere to tired old '80s pop cliches. It's true that anyone can probably guess that this is an '80s song, but it isn't in-your-face and annoying about that fact.
Turn to You 8/10
Oh yeah, the guitars are as heavy as ever! Why can't they turn in some blistering guitar solos, though? I can hear one, but it's very quiet in the mix and it's not that amazing anyway. Well... Maybe they weren't that good instrumentalists! Most importantly, this is a bouncy, poppy song with a nice beat and a spirited vocal performance. The melody is good enough for government work, but it's non-memorable in the least!
You Thought 8.5/10
Er... They never sounded this '80s before. Thank goodness it's only that cheesy synthesizer they use for the background texture. And, oddly enough, it's this intro that I like best about the song. It sort of goes downhill from there. The opening atmosphere is rather thick and ominous, and I'm disappointed that the rest of the song just sounds like a normal Go-Go's pop song with their usual, breezy melody. I will say that there's some particularly nice guitar lickage in here. Woof!!
Beneath the Blue Sky 8/10
This isn't bad! Again, their breezy melodies are always charming, and their instrumentation is just fine. Unfortunately, this is getting too close to the point of just being another ordinary '80s pop song. I'll grant you that they're keeping the guitar central to the sound, and Carlisle is nice to hear. Yeah, I think this song is fine, but it's uninspired. It should have soared.
Forget That Day 8/10
This has the same sort of intro as "You Thought." It's a slow and ominous beginning. Then they slowly pick up the tempos and, with it, along with all the general interest that I had in it. Unfortunately I think this is pretty indicative that their hearts weren't into the songwriting. They were fine enough to make a good intro, but the body of the song is blindly adhering to Go-Go's cliches. Yes, but it's still way too fun to snub.
I'm the Only One 7.5/10
It's back to the awesome, fast-paced songs. But why don't I like it so much? I'll tell ya why! Even though this is rather guitar heavy, the riff they're playing is pretty dang bland and so is the rest of the melody. However, they sure do have spunk, and you can't deny that it isn't effective. Hear how Carlisle is delivering those vocals that are so determined to be carefree! (Yeesh, they're trying to rock out so badly, but it's a shame that it's not really working....)
Yes or No 7/10
No! ... er, yes? Wait, they weren't asking me anything. ... Either this album is gracefully getting boring to me, or it's genuinely dropping off in quality. My money's on the latter, because this is a pretty dang trite melody. Those hooks are unforgivably sterile and simple. The instrumentation doesn't disappoint, and I particularly like some of the crunches. There's nothing much about the instrumentals that can completely redeem this track, however. I'm kinda tempted to give these songs higher ratings just because I'm fully aware that they could have had butt-cheesy synthesizers.
Capture the Light 8.5/10
Well here's something. I knew they had to rebound sometime! And what better than this song, which has quite a lot of spirit. The melody is nice, but the star of the show is undoubtedly the guitars. The crunches are very well done, and there's even some power chords! The electric guitar solo might have been a tad more spirited, but I guess you can't ask for everything. It's probably the best solo of the album though.
I'm With You 7.5/10
Er, what's this? The Madonna "Material Girl" bass groove??? ... Hm. Otherwise, this is just another one of them Go-Go songs. It's mid-tempo, and Carlisle is such a stable singer. The instrumentation was thick and well constructed. The main problem is that there just isn't a lot of real spirit with this one. The melody is also a little bland. It does seem like they forgot that their debut album was so memorable because it had so much personality, but this is pretty faceless.
This song has an ominous opening featuring a militaristic drum solo. It's a little plain, and I kind of like it. As the instrumentals build up, they fit along beautifully with this ominous opening. Unfortunately, just like they've done multiple times before in this album, the rest of this song doesn't live up to the intro. It never catches fire, and it really should have! Despite that , this track does manage to hold its own. The guitars here are particularly effective ... some have a nice bending effect to it! Cool.
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