Buggles, The Age of Plastic

Trevor Horn has always been an expert at making us think he was more innovative than he actually was, and this is truly a compliment, because this is the way hits are made (the canonical example is 90125, a rather slight effort from his time with Yes that turned out to be a mega-hit in spite of itself). So here we have the album, with the song, that launched the MTV age, and if the actual songs themselves are rather average otherwise that's only to be expected. While the title track and of course "Video Killed The Radio Star" are creative, fascinating and off-beat, the rest of them are schmaltz and phony drama, ginned-up sentiment writ large slickly produced and exceptionally mixed: "Elstree" is cute and light, and the subject is unorthodox, but the music and the production are strictly by the book; tracks like "Clean, Clean" have an interesting story but it's hard to sit still to digest it. But I get the joke, because Mr. Horn always meant the album to come out that way — in his own words, a "mechanised rhythm section, a band where you’re never old-fashioned, where you don’t have to emote." And so it is: it's fun, and it's certainly not old fashioned, but it's exactly as plastic as he meant it to be. The best that can be said about this album, besides the fact it kept future veejays safely employed somewhere they couldn't hurt anyone, is that it led to Adventures in Modern Recording, an expansion of the same style and a superior effort in every respect that is of course nearly impossible to find anymore. (Content: no concerns.)