Album Reviews

Superheroes – Behind Our Masks We Are Perfectly Ordinary People

(sidewinder) UK release date: 25 October 2004

From Electroclash to poodle rock and now even Robbie Williams tuning into Gary Numan on his Radio, it seems the eighties revival is still going strong. Danish sextet Superheroes adds further to the neon glow. A glitterball shines on Behind Our Masks We Are Perfectly Ordinary People throughout with its synth-heavy pop, quirky electronic hooks and glammed up, often throw away lyrics.

The album opens with a spoken sample of the title followed by a scream making it clear from the very start that this is not a band who take themselves too seriously. Karate, with its happy electro-riffs and jaunty guitar, further instills their sense of humour. It comes as no surprise then that vocalist Thomas Troelsen and co. are good friends with delirious dance duo, Junior Senior, who make appearances on Johnny And I, a stupidly upbeat burst of carefree synth pop, and Cool Girl, a perky, pogo-beated complaint about a girlfriend’s leather jacket and lipstick borrowing.

Rich and Famous has an almost annoyingly catchy synth-line which is backed up with bouncing bassline and spaced out sound effects and overlaid with tales of affluent jetsetting while New Romantic Sounds is just that with its Human League-styled male/female vocal harmonies and warm, keyboard chords.

But there is more to Superheroes than plain retro-futurism, See You At The Railroads is a beautiful, slow-paced ballad initially featuring soft acoustic harmonies and emanating a wistful melancholy before the tempo increases for a sun-kissed chorus. This is perfect, heart-string tugging pop reminiscent of The Cranberries or one of Dubstar‘s finer moments – a melodic, emotion-laden breath of bittersweet air.

What’s Going On also has a sensitive love-struck sentimentality and along with the harmonic loveliness of Voice (On The Radio) and tear-streaked Go On (And Leave Me), offers a depth and variety to an album that is otherwise chock-full of dippy party music and ironic eighties-styled posing.

Thomas Troelsen’s voice is soft and feminine but he shows some vocal versatility, developing a Tim Burgess-style sneer on Miami, which forms one of many guitar-laced electro-rock anthems that burst with energy and verve. Indeed, some tracks have an infectious energy running through them and effortlessly create the urge to get up and dance, none moreso than the lager-fuelled chant of In Control Of The Beat, which is so frantically buoyant and carefree as to be almost disposable. The bizarre, obsessive confessional, I Touched Her Legs, also has the same jump-around quality but Ghost takes us deep into sub-Nick Kershaw territory, lacking substance and inspiration.

Closing track Calculating has a down-trodden charm and again demonstrates the Superheroes’ touchingly fragile side but the inexplicably repetitive percussive ending spoils its charms somewhat.

What Behind Our Masks We Are Perfectly Ordinary People may lack in snappiness of name it more than makes up for with its punchy pop and shiny synthesiser symphonies and has more hooks than an anglers’ convention. The Superheroes’ music may take such inspiration from the past at times as to be dismissible as mere misty-eyed nostalgia but this is an album that raises many a smile and also takes time for moments of sedate introspection. At times joyously happy and at others painfully downcast, this is a modern synth pop opus full of emotion, fun and, most importantly, well constructed pop songs.

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Superheroes – Behind Our Masks We Are Perfectly Ordinary People