Soundtrack: Luke Abbott

The electronic musician shares his love for Tears For Fears

Sometimes you hear a record and just connect straight away, and sometimes a record can float around you for a while before it reveals its magic to you. Very rarely though a record can be instantly amazing but continue to reveal layer after layer of magic on further listens. But that’s what happens with Tears For Fears’ Songs From The Big Chair. It is part pop record and harbours one of the defining hits from the 1980s in Everybody Wants To Rule The World, a song I would have heard countless times growing up. It’s undeniable that they can write hits, but the work put into this record goes far beyond the normal level of on-trend writing and production work necessary to turn out a pop record.  

In a similar way to artists like Prince and The Blue Nile, there is an absolute economy of musical activity wherein every single part is necessary and vital, locking together as if the song were a giant puzzle. And there’s a totally unashamed musicality to it all; they’re not afraid to throw in a massive guitar or sax solo, there are preludes and reprises, grand moments of transition as a studio production morphs into a live recording into the sound of a crowd cheering.

There’s a confidence to it that come across most of all in the production, it just feels huge and totally direct. The drum production is massive and industrial, the vocal performances are confident and strident. But despite all that it feels personal and comforting. This is a record I turn to when I need to reconnect. This is a record that, despite the fact that it’s 35 years old, still sounds like it’s pointing to the future. Although that might not be the same future that we are heading towards anymore; instead it’s an opulent and paranoid 1980s idea of the future where growth is exponential, the shadow of the Cold War looms large and where pleasure is gold.

The highlight for me comes towards the end of the record as Broken becomes Head Over Heels.  I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Head Over Heels has the greatest music video of all time, the unenthusiastic synth solo is perfect.  It’s a song about being unable to stop yourself falling completely in love, which is how I feel every time I hear it despite the fact that I’ve probably listened to it hundreds of times.  

As a musician, it’s sometimes difficult to quantify the influence that other music has on your work. You never want to copy anyone, but you have these landmarks in your mind of these records you love and somehow the feeling of that experience manifests itself in your music. When I was working on my album Translate it was Tears For Fears who were foremost in my mind. My music is very different from theirs; mine is wild and improvised where theirs is concise and articulate. But I can feel their influence when I listen back to my record, the invisible template of Songs From The Big Chair has somehow ended up living inside what I do.

Luke Abbott‘s first solo album in six years, Translate, was released 20th November via Border Community