Landscape

From the Tea-Rooms of Mars to the Hell Holes of Uranus

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Landscape's second album was their most successful, reaching the British Top 20 and spawning the Top Five hit "Einstein a Go-Go" there, as well as a Top 40 follow-up with "Norman Bates." It's generally considered their most artistically successful, too, though it's an odd timepiece of a time in which synth pop was just about to begin a meteoric ascendancy in the British pop consciousness. From the Tea-Rooms of Mars to the Hell Holes of Uranus was not as contrived as the most notorious synth pop recordings of the early '80s, nor was it emotionally engaging rock. Instead, it was rather dry, arch, and arty, emphasizing irony over emotion. It's too glossy and detached for its own good, but it does have a knowing, somewhat more sophisticated swarm than much of the synth pop that would follow slightly later, as well as a bit of jazzy lounge ambience. Actually, "Norman Bates," though far less known than "Einstein a Go-Go," is the most memorable song; its laconic, even-tempered computer-textured vocal pronouncements -- "my name is Norman Bates, I'm just a normal guy" -- come off as fairly chilling in their matter-of-fact disingenuousness. The 2002 CD reissue on Cherry Red adds four songs from 1982-1983 singles -- "It's Not My Name," "Eastern Girl," "So Good So Pure So Kind," and "You Know How to Hurt Me" -- that found the band drifting into a yet more mechanized and (at the time) commercial new romantic sound.

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