Wang Chung – Tazer Up

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Review By Brian McGowan

Taken from their 1986 album, Mosaic, ‘Everybody Have Fun Tonight’ and ‘Let’s Go’ were the big commercial successes in the USA (but not in the UK). Later album, Warmer Side Of Cool (1989) was the artistic success, but quickly ended up in the bargain bins.

Thanks to the cool, quirky number one hit single, ’Dance Hall Days’ and the acclaimed movie soundtrack, To Live And Die In LA, that commercial failure didn’t stop the duo from becoming cultural icons in the USA. But it resulted in Brits Jack Hues and Nick Feldman dissolving the band, going their own separate ways.

2010 before they got back together as Wang Chung. A few EPs and now, Tazer Up, a full length studio album.

‘Dance Hall Days’ has been resurrected here…the “Psychemagic Mix”. Usually a sign of panic…like the new material isn’t good enough to stand up without the support of something already tried and tested.

Wrong assumption…this is great stuff, a powerful, purring cruise along the superhighway leading back from the eighties, a band preserving their legendary cool, staking out their surreal, existential turf in typical Wang Chung fashion.

The music is peppered with magical orchestral moments, unashamed synth fills and frills, like on the mesmeric ambient rock of the Bowie-esque ‘Driving You’, mixing in neat wordplay and climaxing with a satisfying lyrical payoff.

On album standout, ‘Overwhelming Feeling’, Greek Mythology comes face to face with Spocks Beard. The Proggy, spacy passages and a wonderfully dreamy melody give the song a spiritual dimension, and add an epic feel to these rather personal musings.

‘London Orbital’ and ‘Stargazing’ will be the tracks that cause the most waves. The first uses the M25 as a metaphor, doesn’t everybody? Circular relationships, exits missed, signs misinterpreted and so on. You get the picture. At surface level the narrative seems to lack imagination, but matched with the music it’s hypnotic, with the cadence of the language echoing the rhythmic flow of nighttime traffic.

The second, an 8 minute epic,is a cornucopia of tones and textures, lush, restless, haunting, it has you grasping for a meaning that tantalisingly seems just out of reach. Then again, it might just be about stargazing.

Unquestionably the duo’s creative confidence has returned. It would be good to see the UK waking up to them. Word of mouth just might be enough. It might not.

Wang Chung - Tazer Up8 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Dance Hall Days (Pschemagic Remix)
  2. City of Light
  3. Lets Get Along
  4. Rent Free
  5. Justify Your Tone
  6. Driving You
  7. Why?
  8. London Orbital
  9. Abducted By the 80’s
  10. Overwhelming Feeling
  11. Stargazing