Private Lives

Prejudice & Pride

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Yes, it's dated. Like a classic automobile, Private Lives' Prejudice & Pride album symbolizes a specific time and place. First of all, the keyboards sound old, and secondly, its studio gloss is totally '80s. But those are just two reasons why the LP is highly attractive to new wave disciples. The term "dated" is only bad to people who weren't born during the era the work originated in, or who have no affection for it. On Prejudice & Pride Private Lives combine their love for jazz and funk with the synthesized beats of mid-'80s England. The result is a hybrid of blue-eyed soul and new wave à la Fiction Factory, a group that Private Lives stylistically resemble. The music is often upbeat; however, the lyrics mainly consist of torn love letters, filled with bitterness and regret. "Living in a World" is the best track, the story of a promiscuous girl whose life has been overturned and who can't find her way to happiness; consequently, she begins having suicidal thoughts: "You say you want to drink and drive/Over the bridge to the other side," vocalist John Adams sings with both anger and empathy. The words veer between resentment and compassion, but it becomes obvious that he still cares for her: "No, you're just hanging around/Waiting for someone to rescue you." It's a beautiful ballad, hauntingly sung and sharply arranged with mournful synthesizers and toe-tapping basslines. (The 12" extended version, "Living in a World (Turned Upside Down)," is also worth searching for.) As strong as "Living in a World" is, one would assume that Private Lives used all of their ammo on one track; thankfully, they didn't. Prejudice & Pride has no filler. It may take a few spins for the record to sink in, but songs such as "River to a Sea" and "God Only Knows" are just as catchy -- if not as moving -- as "Living in a World." The angst level is pretty high; Adams seeks liberation from a dying relationship in "Break the Chains," and "No Chance You'll Pay" and "Break the Whole Thing Down" offer more romantic diatribes. All the dourness may seem a tad overwhelming; however, many British new wave artists weren't exactly cheerful. Prejudice & Pride details heartbreak with a sweet tooth for pop that is hard to resist.

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