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The Sound’s Jeopardy – Anthems of the Heartland

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Being born in the middle of the Eighties, the Cold War was merely something I read about in history class. But based on what my textbooks and The History Channel tell me, it was a time of paranoia and Us vs. Them. Nuclear winter was imminent at any notice; all someone had to do was push a little red button and it was all over.

That said, I don’t know what that feeling was like. Terrorism is too local and isolated of a phenomenon for me to really lose sleep over, these days. During the Cold War, we were talking about full-on nuclear war. That amount of fear and dread is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. But I feel that if there was one ideal document for those feelings, it would be The Sound’s 1980’s debut album, Jeopardy.

Released on the Korova label (home to fellow gloomy new wavers Echo & The Bunnymen), on the surface it sounds like any other English band with eyeliner and guitars. It was dark and it was brooding. But the lyrics paint a different picture, with the focus seemingly on socio-political aspects of the times. England in 1980 was not a time for beautiful music. Thatcherism was the new modus operandi. Punk rockers pointed their fingers and blamed “them,” post-punk singers blamed themselves.

But Adrian Borland’s lyrics screamed of something beyond self-pity and doubt. Guided by a steady rhythm section that churned methodically like a heartbeat, he found his source of anguish beyond and within England’s borders. On “Missiles,” he finds it in the military-industrial complex that ran the world as he knew it. “Heartland” seemingly mocks (or supports?) the political nationalism of the era.

The band would follow up with 1981’s also-excellent From The Lion’s Mouth, but nothing would come close to the highs the band achieved with this record. Tragically, Adrian Borland would end up committing suicide in 1999.

Download: Live Instinct EP

[In 2002, Jeopardy was reissued with the four-song concert recording Live Instinct EP as bonus tracks. It has since gone back out of print.]

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Written by Carman

May 8, 2008 at 1:18 pm

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