Historical retrospectives are funny things. When eyes and ears turn back on an era, there tends to be a rosy light around them, like viewing the past through a stained glass, kaleidoscope funhouse mirror.
Ferndale, Michigan's The Camoufleurs might have named their record 1980 after the first year of the 8th decade of the 20th century, but sonically this is pastiche, not an attempt at re-creation. This is immediately evident with the album opener the eponymous "1980;" While I may not yet have learned to speak, I can pretty much assure you, at that time, nobody was blending Springsteen-style roots rock with throbbing kraut-rock minimalism (only the true underground heads would've known who Neu! was, at that point, and Bowie's Heroes was only three years old).
The Camoufleurs also claim country royalty and Phil Spector's wall of sound as influences as can be heard to wonderful effect on "Broken Shoe," which would've been entirely anti-thema to 1980. At that time, it was full steam ahead, towards the future, with the nascent futurism of new wave and synthpop. Anything old was dead, man; more passé than goose liver pate.
And while we admire the '80s futurism and optimism, and are really, really thankful that Depeche Mode experimented with making snare sounds out of scissors, while cosmic warriors played with their synths and created new age, let us not forget that many of the mainstream striations of popular music in the 1980s was really, really god-awful, no matter how many resurgences and revivals and marketing campaigns try and convince us otherwise.
But blend that futurism with some classic songwriting - think Dusty Springfield's Dusty In Memphis or Mazzy Star's So Tonight That I Might See, for a more recent example. The pop strictures - the charging guitars, the memorable hooks, the synth tags - make this music stick in your craw, leaving you humming for days, while more experimental fare might just dribble out of your ears. But it's still unique, personal, distinctive...it's a really excellent hybrid of pop and experimentation that I highly recommend.
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