Graded on a Curve:
A Flock Of Seagulls,
We Are The ’80s:
A Flock Of Seagulls

If there’s one thing I know about the hated eighties, it’s that absolutely no one I knew could abide synthpop. Oh, some of us may have locked our doors and listened to it in the privacy of our own homes, confessing to doing so one meant being labeled a Eurofop and drummed out of our social circle.

But while my friends and I despised the genre and were disheartened by the prospect of its conquering the world, A Flock of Seagulls were a kind of consolation prize. Them we could laugh at. Mike Score’s gull wings haircut cracked us up, and the little dweeb in the sunglasses was funny too.

But lately I’ve been wondering if there might have been more to A Flock of Seagulls than Michael Score’s iconic topiary coiffure, so I picked up a copy of the band’s 2006 VH1 Classic best-of compilation We Are the ‘80s and gave it a spin. And much to my chagrin, I discovered their music isn’t as bad as all that.

Just as I’d suspected, I found A Flock of Seagulls’ species of MTV-friendly Europop to have all the soul of an automatic car wash. But despite my social clique’s dismissal of the group’s synth-heavy dance music as bloodless as your average cyborg, there must have been a thumping heart in there somewhere, a point A Flock of Seagulls drove home in “Heartbeat Like a Drum.”

The best songs on We Are the ‘80s are upbeat, boast nice melodies, and are every bit as infectious as a computer virus. Which is why I dared not listen to them more a few times–I was afraid I’d crash and not be able to reboot.

But allow me to touch on them briefly. The herky-jerky “Telecommunication” could be a Devo number. “Remember David” boasts hard rock muscle and a fabulous chorus. The instrumental “D.N.A.” could pass for the pop equivalent of a Bowie-Eno collaboration. The space winds that open “Modern Love Is Automatic” evoke fond memories of Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle.” And “It’s Not Me (Talking)” is all metronome and smooth talk.

And there are more. “Wishing (I Had a Photograph of You)” has a certain grandeur, while “Tender Affection” is a Madonna song sans Madonna. ” “Heartbeat Like a Drum” brundleflies Rockwell and Mah Jongg, while both ”The More You Live, the More You Love” and the depressing/uplifting “I Ran (So Far Away) feature power chords that prove guitarist Paul Reynolds had a more than a passing acquaintanceship with human windmill Pete Townshend.

I will always find A Flock of Seagulls’ music too bloodless and robotic for my tastes, and I could no more love them than I could a shiny steel Krups coffee maker–although come to think of, I would love to own a good coffee maker. There may be no more stinging an indictment of the accursed eighties than A Flock of Seagulls’ assertion that they were its representatives, but I admit they have their allure. But don’t tell anyone I said that. Should any of my old friends hear about it, I’m toast.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
C+

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