Flashback Café, Vol. 2 is a moodier, more reflective compilation of slow '80s new wave tracks than its predecessor. While Flashback Café, Vol. 1 focused mainly on songs about love, the sequel concentrates on heartache; Flashback Café, Vol. 2 is suitable for healing wounds after a breakup. While David Bowie's "Absolute Beginners" is relatively upbeat, the rest of the album is drenched in woe. Joe Jackson's profoundly sad "Breaking Us in Two" is probably one of the most depressing ballads about a failed relationship ever written; Jackson's deeply melancholic vocals and hauntingly disconsolate piano vividly portray a dying love affair. Paul Young's soulful "Come Back and Stay," 'Til Tuesday's bitter "Voices Carry," and Scarlett & Black's deceptively lively "You Don't Know" are all characterized by wounded emotions. Talk Talk's "Life's What You Make It" and Howard Jones' "No One Is to Blame" reveal that sorrow can be self-inflicted, while Icehouse's brooding "No Promises" strips away fairy-tale fantasies about romance. On the surface the Blow Monkeys' "Digging Your Scene" is flamboyant, jovial pop; however, its lyrics are actually about a man with AIDS refusing to reveal his disease in the dating scene. Flashback Café, Vol. 2 certainly isn't a CD for parties, but for rainy days it's a highly recommended selection.
AllMusic Review by Michael Sutton