Lead singer Glenn Gregory helped Martin Fry relaunch ABC's first album in about 6 years back in 1997 with very mixed results. Maybe he saved all the good stuff for this record.
Gone is the crappy, fake soul of their last release "Teddy Bear, Duke and Psycho." Back is their smart, socially danceable commentaries sounding much like their best work on their first two albums. This time they've taken aim at the good old USA. Songs like "Bigger Than America," and "The Big Dipper" very coyly stab at America's genitalia with lyrics such as:
"The King of Hollywood is dead / I don't care what the President said / I don't believe in anything I've read / the Big Dipper's coming down / New York's a shanty town / The distant sound is L.A. burning down."
Other highlights include the Fascist Groove Thing-like rhythm of "Designing Heaven," the atmospheric opening track "Dive," the disco pomp of "We Blame Love" and the industrial tinged "Freak."
Heaven 17 have managed to transcend the new wave slump that have claimed the life of many a new wave comeback albums (See Modern English's last abomination, parts of A Flock of Seagulls and the Human League's as well) by incorporating smart lyrics, beats, and lots of analog synth sounds. Eight years is a long time between records. Are they still relevant? Do you even care? About the only thing that's changed about the band are their hair and waist lines. (Glenn Gregory now looks almost exactly like the Peter Barrett of Midnight Oil). If you say that good new wave synthpop is gone, pick it up and be pleasantly surprised.