Album Review: Arias & Symphonies, Spoons (Ready Records, 1982)

1982 was an exceptionally good year for music. Duran Duran had released Rio, Simple Minds were in their prime, and countless other eighties acts were peaking musically. It is remarkable that this little band that never got really big produced the definitive record of the 1980s. The Production, arrangements, use of drum machine and synthesizer, and compositions on this album make for an end-to-end submersion into the ethos of new wave music breaking out all over the world at that time. Combine this with the vocal chemistry of Gord Deppe’s lead and Sandy Horne’s romantically haunting backing. Finally, and most remarkably, the synthesizer performance of Rob Preuss is absolutely legendary. Listen to the layered tracks on “Blow Away” and be amazed.

It would certainly strike most readers as hyperbole to call this the best album of the 80s. Yes, there were classics like U2’s War, Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream, Prince’s Purple Rain, and even MJ’s Thriller. But the 80s weren’t about rock or R&B. They were about a completely new genre of music that employed new instrumentation, unconventional lyrics, and a commitment to style in both musical form and function. These are the measures of a great 80s album. And Arias & Symphonies wins, easily. What’s more, I’ve been listening to 80s music since, well, the 80s, and this is the only album that consistently comes back with something fresh on every listen.

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