The roots of the complaint that British synth pop acts were all haircuts and no skill lie in the new romantic movement, despite the fact that several of its associated bands (Ultravox, Duran Duran, Visage) were musically quite credible. Spandau Ballet's first album, however, generally lived up -- or down, perhaps -- to that assessment, showcasing the sound of a group not quite ready for prime time. To be fair, the teenaged quintet did offer a hint or two of promise; the first single, "To Cut a Long Story Short," grooves along on a catchy electro riff, and "Musclebound," although far outdone by its video, does capture the new romantics' talent for making the even the mundane (a song about backbreaking labor!) exotic. But those two songs are still pretty skimpy in the melody department, and the half-dozen other tracks offer even less. Instead, you get crisp but tuneless dance-rock that at least offers plenty of leeway for Tony Hadley's dramatic tenor, which frequently wanders in search of a key. While most of the output from the band's peers now sounds dated, this is one album that suffers irreparable harm when separated from the accompanying costumes and visuals.
AllMusic Review by Dan LeRoy