1982: Yazoo - “Only You”

I was surprised after I learned that Vince Clarke offered this song to his ex-cohorts in Depeche Mode after agreeing that he could remain in the band as a non-touring member, writing their songs. The surprising part was that they turned it down, although, in a way, it made sense — the Mode usually drifted into darker territory. Instead of abandoning the track, Vince used it in Yazoo, his subsequent band with singer Alison Moyet.

“Only You” epitomizes synth pop, using technology to flesh out simple, traditional ideas in an effective way. With its intertwined melodies and clear, universal sentiments that go straight to the heart, the track is reminiscent of old Motown records instead of an incomprehensible futuristic cacophony. Everything is dressed in the finest digital modules and processes available at the time, disregarding the possibilities for sound manipulation in favor of sparkling instruments that barely resemble the ones they are trying to imitate. It ends up with a sound that feels like a warm and familiar extraterrestrial creature.

Thematically, “Only You” talks about break up and summons the confusion felt right before it unfolds, the minutes that seems like days and the days that feel like nothing, unsettling you to the very core of your being; you know what’s going to happen but you ache and hope you are wrong and everything is in your head. There’s no break up in the lyrics, per se, but the protagonist knows things aren’t good; he/she just wants things to remain the same, disregarding any conflict and negativity, only thinking about the good parts as if that’s all that exists in a relationship. If only life was that easy, songs like this wouldn’t sound — let alone hurt — so right.

DeLorean

There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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