Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

The Human League - Credo

Credo, The Human League's first album in 10 years, doesn't quite achieve their former brilliance.

The Human League
Credo
(Wall Of Sound)

Think of the buildings that built pop, and you think of Abbey Road studios in north London or maybe the songsmiths' nexus that was the Brill Building on Broadway. It might be a lot less glamorous, but the Crazy Daisy nightclub in Sheffield, England, is also a pop landmark. In 1980 it was there that the Human League frontman Phil Oakey invited Joanne Catherall and Susan Sulley to join his band after the group's other founding members quit before an international tour. Catherall and Sulley were just 17, and Oakey had to assure their parents of his good character before taking the girls on the road.

By 1981, this happenstance trio had made their defining album, Dare. Buoyed by the hits Open Your Heart and Don't You Want Me (the latter reached No 1 in the UK), it saw The Human League ditch most of the more left field aspects of their sound and embrace commercial pop. Together with contemporaries such as Heaven 17 and OMD, The Human League proved that, with a little glamour and imagination, DIY-minded folk could forge a lucrative pop career with drum machines and synthesisers. Oakey wrote the songs, but it was Catherall and Sulley who set THL apart. Ordinary yet alluring, untrained but not unmusical, their voices were music to the ears of factory girls (and boys) with dreams.

Thirty years on, the trio's core sound is virtually unchanged save for some Auto-tune tweaks and some contemporising bangs and whistles courtesy of the producers Dean Honer and Jarrod Gosling, better known as I Monster.

Oakey's melodramatic baritone rides a Giorgio Moroder-style synthesiser on Into The Night, while on Night People, Catherall and Sulley uphold the valid theory that a night's gung-ho dancing can be a useful salve for life's travails: "Gather up your skirts and trousers / put on your best frocks and blouses," runs their blatant call to frivolity. Shakespeare it ain't, but it is tremendous fun.

Such nocturnal themes are a staple on the band's ninth studio album Credo. You suspect - or at least hope - that the air of wee-small-hours danger Oakey's words target is partly tongue-in-cheek - especially as the effect is often mildly comedic, rather than ominous. That this is 1980s-rooted pop music - escapist, disposable, frothy - makes the record's odd duff rhyming-couplet style, la ABC's Martin Fry, just about forgivable, but it would have been nice to welcome back The Human League with a slightly stronger set of tunes and a bit more daring.

Though the suitably invigorating Electric Shock and vocoder-infused Single Minded have a firm grasp on the kind of tuneful immediacy that made classic-era Human League a force to be reckoned with, the confused-sounding album closer When the Stars Start to Shine prevents this otherwise decent return reaching a proper crescendo. There's also a little too much gloom afoot, Oakey's night people not always the kind of happy-go-lucky folk with whom you'd like to go dancing.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Hajer Almosleh, the winner of the last year's short story competition, at her home in Dubai. Duncan Chard for the National

Get involved with The National’s short-story competition

Writers have two weeks to craft a winning submission, under the title and theme "The Turning Point".

 It is believed that the desert-like planet of Tatooine is being recreated for Star Wars: Episode VII. Could that be where filming in the UAE comes in? Courtesy Lucasfilms

Could the force be with us? The search for Star Wars truth

On the hunt for the Star Wars: Episode VII set, which a growing number of people are sure is in Abu Dhabi, but no one can seem to find.

 With an estimated 18,000 comic and film fans having already paid a visit to this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, organisers are hopeful they will have surpassed last year total, of 21,000, by its close. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai

Dubai's World Trade Center was awash with people visiting this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con. Here's some of our best pictures.

 Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, presents Quincy Jones with the Abu Dhabi Festival Award as the Admaf founder Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo applauds. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival.

A candid talk with Quincy Jones about the UAE, Lil Wayne and the Abu Dhabi Festival award

The Abu Dhabi Festival honoree Quincy Jones discusses his legendary career as a music producer, the return of Dubai Music Week and why he can’t handle the rapper Lil Wayne.

 Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge arrive at Wellington Military Terminal on an RNZAF 757 from Sydney on April 7, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

In pictures: Will and Kate visit Australia and New Zealand

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge are on a tour Down Under for three weeks.

 A protester gives a victory sign during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo in November 2011. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Street life: humanity’s future depends on ability to negotiate and sustain public space

Negotiating our ever more crowded cities and maintaining vibrant public spaces are among the major challenges facing humanity in the coming decades.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National