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Favorite Albums: Alphaville | Forever Young.

A stunning debut that came a little too late in the synthpop boom.



Synthpop reached its commercial peak in the UK in 1981–1982, with bands such as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Japan, Ultravox, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Eurythmics and even Kraftwerk, hitting the charts. By the end of 1982, these acts had been joined in the charts by synth-based singles from Thomas Dolby, Blancmange, Taco. In the US, synthpop was considered a subgenre of new wave and often described as technopop by the press, the genre became popular due to the cable music channel MTV, which put on heavy rotation style-conscious New Romantic synthpop acts like Duran Duran. 'I Ran (So Far Away)' (1982) by A Flock of Seagulls is generally considered the first hit by a British act to enter the Billboard Top Ten as a result of exposure through video.

By 1984, traditional synthpop was declining in popularity, with audience preference moving towards dance music, including the work of acts such as British duos Pet Shop Boys, Erasure and the Communards. Alphaville, formed in early 1982, when lead singer Marian Gold met Bernhard Lloyd at the music project Nelson Community, were one of those unfortunate bands that may have arrived a moment too late to receive the recognition they deserved.

That's a real shame because their debut album is a synthpop masterpiece, the album consists of 10 sharp, melodic tracks not far removed from their early 80s contemporaries. Songs like 'Big in Japan', with its oriental melody and bombastic orchestral hits, 'Sounds Like a Melody' and its dazzlingly instrumental outro, 'Fallen Angel' with its infectious chorus and the beautiful title track 'Forever Young', all equally worthy of chart attention.

Maybe the album recording process, rushed due to the unexpected success of 'Big in Japan', which was released before the album was finished, put pressure on the band. Alphaville had planned to release 'Forever Young' as their second single, however, record studio executives requested that the band release an additional song between the two singles, and 'Sounds Like a Melody' was written and arranged in just two days. This corporate pressure caused Gold to dislike the song and he refused to play it live for over 15 years.

Despite recording problems, the album received generally positive reviews and fared well in parts of Europe, unfortunately, it failed to make an impact on the UK and US charts. The recording company re-released 'Forever Young' several times as a single in the hope of it becoming a hit in the United States but did not reach any higher than number 65 on the Hot 100.

Through the years the album gained a cult status among synthpop and new wave lovers, receiving, in 2019, a 35th-anniversary special edition. The package came with two additional CDs, one with original single versions, B-sides and remixes, and the other with 16 original demos. There is also a super deluxe edition that includes the new remaster on vinyl and comes with a 24-page vinyl-sized booklet, created by the art director of the original album in close collaboration with the band, containing a variety of rare and unpublished photos, sleeve notes and various other testimonies.



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