The birth of a child, never as dark and cold…
It’s just so dark. Throughout the record there’s a lack of hope for the world and apathy for humankind strewn across the futuristic electro warbles and detached vocals and lyrics heard on virtually every track. On paper, that sounds unpleasant, but in reality it’s a well formed brand of synth-pop that doesn‘t care for commercial approval. It has its own flavour; its own sense of style and a clear idea of what it wants to be - cold futurist music, deployed using (at the time) cutting edge synthesisers to create a danceable, yet moody form of electronic music for those outside the realms of pop’s rose-tinted glasses.
Sure, 'Dare' is a masterpiece and, when it comes down to it, it’s probably a better record than 'Reproduction'. But just because their début didn’t aim for the charts, doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Whilst the music isn’t as hooky or digestible as it would grow to be; it is infinitely more interesting and thought-provoking. The opener 'Almost Medieval' pounds along with its despair filled beat and subtle background melodies to make one of the tensest tunes on the album, and despite the overall tone, one song managed to find its way onto the UK charts back in the day ('Empire State Human') - almost unbelievable considering its odd chorus: "Tall, tall, tall, I wanna be tall, tall, tall, as big as a wall, wall, wall".
Really, it’s a matter of taste. People who mainly enjoy, easy-to-stomach pop hooks and generic lyrics won’t see the appeal, and would be better off sticking with 'Dare', but those with a penchant for darker and more challenging music will find themselves a ground-breaking record they might actually prefer to the pop-leaning tendencies on later 'League' albums. It’s best to approach these songs with an ear for curiosity. If you’re looking for a simple pop fix like you’d get with 'Dare', you’ll be disappointed, but if you’re looking to hear The Human League at their earliest and most artily inventive, 'Reproduction' might just delight more than you expect.
02 Circus Of Death
03 The Path Of Least Resistance
04 Blind Youth
05 The Word Before Last
06 Empire State Human
07 Morale... You've Lost That Loving Feeling
08 Austerity/Girl One (Medley)
09 Zero As A Limit
11 The Dignity Of Labour Part 1*
12 The Dignity Of Labour Part 2*
13 The Dignity Of Labour Part 3*
14 The Dignity Of Labour Part 4*
15 Flexi Disc*
16 Being Boiled (Fast)*
17 Circus Of Death (Fast) *
*Crackly singles link