Various Artists

Poptronica: Romance

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Buddha's Poptronica series boasts a title that's a play on the prevalent term for techno in the '90s, electronica. In the early '80s, however, synth pop was often called techno -- something that the compilers of Poptronica remembered when it came time to assemble a three-disc series of synth pop hits from the '80s. Though Poptronica has a bit of a jokey title, the discs themselves are excellent new wave retrospectives. Romance focuses on hits about love, even if it stretches the definition of a love song (Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" isn't most people's idea of a romantic tune). It also stretches its synth pop boundaries somewhat, adding Love and Rockets' 1989 smash "So Alive," which had no discernible synths, but at its core are several great new wave hits -- "The Metro," "Words," "Here Comes the Rain Again," "In the Name of Love," "Lucky Number," "Love Plus One." There are more offbeat selections here than on the other Poptronica discs -- Japan's "Gentlemen Take Polaroids," the Fixx's "Stand or Fall," the Parachute Club's "Love Is Fire," Classic Nouveaux's "Guilty" -- which might make it of interest to serious new wave collectors. Nevertheless, the main attribute of Poptronica: Romance is that it plays remarkably well, which is the reason why it's one of the better examples of this breed.

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