Wang Chung – Tazer Up! (2012)

Posted: January 1, 2013 in Music

Tazer+Up

2013 promises to be an exciting year in music with mile long lists of anticipated releases and new artists popping up all over the globe – but for me, there is something about the past that I still hold dear.  I admire the bands and artists that ruled the radio 30 years ago that still write, still perform, and still create music for longtime fans. Sure, it’s a bit nostalgic – but more times than not these “blasts-from-the-past” put out records ten times better than their modern-day successors.

There is no denying the influence new wave music had on our generation. No matter your age or musical preference, I would imagine most of you reading this owned an album by Depeche Mode, Devo, The Cure or one of the other classic acts from the 8os. Very few of the iconic groups of the genre still exist, and even fewer are writing new material – but there has been a recent resurgence of sorts that has reignited the careers of some of the age’s most memorable acts.

With such hits as “Everybody Have Fun (Tonight)” and “Let’s Go”, England’s Wang Chung was easily one of the more recognizable acts of the genre. With four platinum albums and worldwide success, Jack Hues and Nick Feldman could have simply chosen to fade into obscurity when the new wave era pretty much dissolved at the end of the 80s – and for the most part they did. They haven’t been on the radar for quite a while, but despite the lack of new music, the songwriting duo has continued to write and noodle ideas over the past two decades. The end result is Tazer Up!, the bands first album of new material in 23 years.

While I wasn’t sure I was “ready” for a new wave return (I’ve grown three sizes out of my Duran Duran shirt), I figured if nothing else, the trip down memory lane would be fun for at least one listen. Right off the bat, the band cashes in on their legacy with a newly-recorded and remixed version of one of their biggest hits “Dance Hall Days.”  The update is fresh and modern, but the fact that the album opened with it left me wondering if Wang Chung really had anything else to offer.

Those fears were immediately put to rest over the course of the next two songs. “City of Light” and “Let’s Get Along” show not only outstanding songwriting, but the bands hit-making ability.  What I expected to sound either retro or outdated instead filled my ears with the perfect combination of new wave edge and modern pop sensibility. Catchy choruses and toe-tapping tempo rule the day here, and set the tone for the rest of the album.

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You could make a case for nearly every track here being a hit single, and the few that weren’t built to that mold are still artistically crafted and fine pieces of work. “Rent Free” features a funky falsetto that would make Prince proud, while the more experimental “Justify Your Tone” slows things down to the tick of a metronome and some spaced-out keyboards.

What really stands out throughout the album is the professionalism of it all. Not often do you get outstanding writing on every single track, but that is the case here. I never considered Wang Chung to be deep and philosophical, but Tazer Up! is a real testament to the attention given both the lyrics and the music – an art often lost in today’s modern music.

The album is definitely a modern pop rock record, but you can’t blame Wang Chung for paying homage to the new wave era with “Abducted By The 80s”, which tells the tale of the music, the news, and the culture of the time in a beautifully spun track that brought back tons of memories from my youth. I guess part of what still makes new wave music stick is the correlation the songs had to Reaganomics, MTV, John Hughes movies and everything else that came with that chapter of our lives.

So is new wave back? It’s a little early to say, but this album – as well as recent releases from Men Without Hats and The Pet Shop Boys – have at least given the genre a new pulse.  Plus, we really weren’t counting on Maroon 5 and One Direction to carry us in to the future, were we?

8/10

Tracklist:
01 – Dance Hall Days (Psychemagik Remix)
02 – City of Light
03 – Lets Get Along
04 – Rent Free
05 – Justify Your Tone
06 – Driving You
07 – Why
08 – London Orbital
09 – Abducted By the 80′s
10 – Overwhelming Feeling
11 – Stargazing

Buy at Amazon

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