Various Artists

Poptronica: Sci-Fi

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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. Sci-Fi focuses on new wave songs about science -- or at least songs that sound like the product of mad scientists. Indeed, it may be hard to discern what the theme of the compilation is without glancing at the title, but it's actually the most cohesive of the three Poptronica discs. That may be because it's filled with hits -- "Weird Science," "She Blinded Me with Science," "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," "Cars," "Oh Yeah," "Lies," "Rock Lobster," After the Fire's "Der Kommissar," a live version of "Whip It" -- or it could be that the relative obscurities (A Flock of Seagull's "Space Age Love Song," Missing Persons' "Destination Unknown," Q-Feel's "Dancing in Heaven [Orbital Be-Bop]") are all first-rate. Either way, it's not really of interest to serious new wave collectors, since there aren't a lot of rarities, but Poptronica: Sci-Fi plays remarkably well, which is the reason why it's among the better new wave comps.

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