Silicon Teens

Music for Parties

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Who would have thought that the same gent responsible for the Normal's "Warm Leatherette" -- the classic, whip-cracking electronic ode to J.G. Ballard's auto-erotic novel Crash -- would follow it up several months later with a small clutch of singles covering '50s and '60s rock classics? And who would have thought that it would lead to a full LP? Inspection of the artwork fools you into thinking that the Silicon Teens are a quartet of Darryl, Jacki, Paul, and Diane. Though it sounds like a group of enthusiastic youngsters bent on giving straight-faced, faithful synthpop renditions of tunes like "Memphis, Tennessee" and "You've Really Got Me," the concept of the group is illusory. There's actually one Silicon Teen -- Mute honcho Daniel Miller. Music for Parties is an undeniably fun record in its complete lack of irony and shameless giddiness. The covers aren't jokes; it sounds like a group of kids having a blast with classic rock & roll. It's well produced, well played, and well intentioned -- no winkie winkie here, à la Moog Cookbook. There's a handful of originals as well; "T.V. Playtime" is sinister, sounding like a commercial for a board game; "Sun Flight" is hallucinatory with Darryl sounding like a cross between Gizmo and Darth Vader. The sound is dated after all, but with the mid- to late-'90s resurgence of the '80s synth sound, one could definitely think it to be a product of modern times. Acts like the Rentals and the Pulsars (who even devoted a song to the Silicon Teens) certainly took a cue from this. There's more life in this record than plenty of guitar-based efforts of the era. Four months after the release of Music for Parties, Miller/Darryl signed a group of waif-ish youths by the name of Depeche Mode.

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