Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Human League

  • Dare [A&M, 1981] B-
  • Hysteria [A&M, 1984] C
  • Greatest Hits [A&M, 1988] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Dare [A&M, 1981]
It's not flesh-and-blood chauvinism that puts me off Britannia's hookiest dance-synth monster. I'll boogie to the right machine; I can even imagine fucking a cyborg. But while the cyborg of my dreams would keep it light, not act too impressed with the tricks stored in his/her memory, League spokesman Philip Oakey comes on like three kinds of pompous jerk. The only time I light up is when Susanne Sulley takes her verse on "Don't You Want Me," which I recommend to Quarterflash. B-

Hysteria [A&M, 1984]
It's clear enough that despite aural appearances Phil Oakey does have feelings, but so do BBC news readers, and nobody expects them to lead popular singing groups. If these Yoo Kay yuppies are really hysterical, they're also dangerously repressed. Polite hooks feh. C

Greatest Hits [A&M, 1988]
I still don't believe humans bought these songs because they liked them. As the leader says, or intones, or even sings if you want to be polite: "(Keep Feeling) [dig those parentheses] Fascination." At their best, they're fascinating--masters of body-snatcher music, articulate simulated emotion fortified with the coldest hooks ever manufactured. Which is why their Jam-Lewis move was such a fraud. "I'm only human/Of flesh and blood I'm made"--yeah, sure. B+

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]