Album Reviews

Heaven 17 – Before After

(Fullfill) UK release date: 3 October 2005


If this comeback is Heaven 17’s attempt at making synth-based music cool again, it’s not going to work. With bands like The Killers and The Bravery making a living from eighties-influenced music, it would be true to say that their decade is back in fashion, but trends never go in perfect circles and Heaven 17 don’t seem to have changed a bit from the way they were back then. Besides, hadn’t they noticed that while we all enjoy watching Brandon Flowers pout over his synthesisers, it’s Dave Keuning’s guitar riffs that are really stealing our hearts?

While fashionista elitism is a terrible trait that none of us really want to fall in to, Heaven 17 are musically so dated that it’s hard not to chuckle. Mid-nineties pop music based itself so heavily on stuff like this, that this could easily have been based on mid-nineties pop in some kind of strange self-indulgent full circle.

The people that loved it first time round will probably love it again now, but the looks on their children’s faces when they put it on the CD player will be priceless. They are a band with history, but without that history it seems unlikely anyone would care about this. It’s worrying too that a group who should be able to stand on their own six feet resort to showing off in the sleeve notes about having bought all the Kraftwerk albums the week they were released. Can you imagine the chortles if The Libertines made a similar remark about The Clash?

The world has changed a lot since the eighties, but Heaven 17 have not. Someone could have at least mentioned to them that this album could, in these modern times, easily have been recorded by a bunch of chavs with a stolen PC and ripped off copy of Dance Ejay. What about the musical genius to compose the songs? All they need is a couple of old Human League and Heaven 17 CDs (which they could probably illegally download off the Internet) – maybe throw in a pinch of New Order for luck – and they’ll have all the inspiration anyone would need to make an album like this, i.e. not very much.

Getting more and more cringeworthy as the album draws to an end, this isn’t so much a blast of nostalgia as our terrible record-buying past coming back to haunt us all. It’s soulless old school dance music for robots and people too hammered to notice. For the sake of the rest of us, thank goodness it’s just a shortie at only thirty eight minutes long.


buy Heaven 17 MP3s or CDs
Spotify Heaven 17 on Spotify


More on Heaven 17
Heaven 17 – Before After