Drowning in Berlin: The Best of Mobiles

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The Mobiles were a short-lived oddity of the new wave era, an arty British synth pop band fronted by vocalist Anna Maria, who had precisely one hit: the lurching, slightly eerie "Drowning in Berlin," a U.K. Top Ten that also became the title of their lone album and this 2006 hits collection. This CD contains all of their 1982 debut and the accompanying B-sides, along with some other odds and ends and latter-day singles, making it a complete recorded works. "Drowning in Berlin" is unsettling enough to suggest that the Mobiles ventured into other dark alleys but that's not quite the case: much of the rest of this is perkier and quirkier, a bit of clenched drum machines matching cool neon keyboards and Anna Maria's dramatic flourishes. They got sillier after the album -- "Skeleton Dance" is bad British Oingo Boingo, "Build Me Up Buttercup" is a parody of new wave one-offs, while its flip, "Don't Pay the Axeman," works overtime to achieve the off-kilter sway of "Drowning in Berlin" -- but the LP has its moments of synth bliss as it conjures memories of better-known (and sadly, largely better) bands.

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