Life in the Gladhouse, 1980-1984: Best of Modern English
Few bands have been quite as misrepresented by their hit songs as Modern English was by its 1983 smash "I Melt With You." An exquisite pop confection celebrating the joy of youthful romance (and a huge American video hit in the early days of MTV), "I Melt With You" was something of an anomaly for this moody and experimental crew, whose songs generally tended to have titles like "Black Houses" and "Swans on Glass" and whose sound owed as much to Joy Division as it did to fellow new romantics like Duran Duran. Really, there's nothing much like "I Melt With You" anywhere else on this retrospective compilation. The program opens with the strange and desolate "16 Days," and stays roughly in that vein through songs that all seem to thud along at the same 120-bpm tempo and all seem to mine the same vein of post-punk socio-romantic angst. Imagine a slightly more melodic but enervated Gang of Four (especially on "Black Houses") or a really gloomy Flock of Seagulls ("Rainbows End"). It's not bad stuff, but the only really noteworthy song here is the hit single, and one of the most noteworthy things about it is its dissimilarity to the rest of the band's oeuvre.