Upstairs at Eric's is one of those maddening albums with a lot of good ideas but only a few great cuts. Essentially a studio-based entity, combining the synthesizers and electronic wizardry of former Depeche Mode member Vince Clarke with the voice and piano of Genevieve Alison Moyet, Yaz first popped up in America under the name Yazoo with an infectious piece of techno-funk called "Situation." Driven by a buoyantly percolating synthesizer hook and a deft percussion track, the song had more than enough rhythmic smarts to make it a dance-floor smash. But thanks to Moyet's sultry, evocative singing, it also had soul, and that combination made the record a standout in pop's silicon-chip sweepstakes.
By the time Upstairs at Eric's was released, the band's name had been shortened to Yaz for legal reasons. But in light of the album's contents, the name change also seems aesthetically justified. Although the album kicks off with the full-throttle funk of "Don't Go" and features several other numbers sparked by Moyet's throaty, Nona Hendryx-style vocals and Clarke's propulsive electronics, "Situation" turns out to be more the exception than the rule. Yaz may be capable of setting down a searing groove, but they're equally given to leaning on clichés. Even more disorienting is the discovery that the dance-beat numbers are flanked by moody, experimental pieces that are essentially trite or hopelessly pretentious. Carefully pruned, Upstairs at Eric's could have set a synth-pop benchmark; as it stands, it's just another good album that should have been a whole lot better. (RS 381)
(Posted: Oct 28, 1982)
News and Reviews
Click "Copy Me" to add the RS.com Widget to your Facebook page, blog, MySpace page and more.
Click the play button.
Register or enter your username and password.
Let the music play!