The Human League


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The Human League's first album in more than six years isn't a complete success, but it's a welcome return from Sheffield's finest synth pop band. Only a handful of songs, among them "All I Ever Wanted," "Love Me Madly?," "Never Give Your Heart," "Liar," and "Reflections," stand up against the band's finest work from the past, but these songs are wholly endearing in their marriage of modern technology and the band's romantic sound. "Love Me Madly?" is particularly engaging, as it throttles along aggressively thanks to Phil Oakey's mad, repeated chant of the title and lyrics like "I'm getting ready for a freak-out." It's simultaneously an urgent and exhilarating grasp at the past and a gaze into the future. Updated technology adds more dimension and bite to "Liar" as well. The song's crunchy bass and racing electronic sounds make for punchy fun. "Reflections" might be the standout track, its weird samples and loopy style recalling past glories like "Empire State Human." The album's Achilles' heel is its seven instrumental tracks. Some of them are quite interesting, but they feel too much like meandering song fragments. Secrets is a minor work against the band's masterpiece, Dare, but it's still a fine introduction into the 21st century for Oakey and company.

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