Saturday, June 18, 2011
Essential Albums of the '80s: The Police - Synchronicity (1983)
"Every Breath You Take" is The Police's most well-known hit and widely misunderstood as a love song when it's really about obsession, jealousy and surveillance (i.e. stalking). It's also not very representative of its parent album, which is much more experimental and new wave-oriented than that pop tune would suggest. "Synchronicity I" opens the album with an insistent keyboard refrain reminiscent of what might start an evening newscast, followed by the more tribal sounding "Walking in Your Footsteps," both of which have a repetitious character that reminds me of the Talking Heads album I covered a few months ago. By the time you get to manic, off-kilter "Mother" and "Miss Gradenko," you know you're in fairly experimental territory.
But then on the second half of the album, it shifts towards more conventional pop territory. "Synchronicity II" has a strong guitar melody, making it the most assertive of the album's hit singles. "King of Pain" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger" are softer, with the former scored prominently at first with piano and then synths, with the latter starting quietly, almost ominously as it builds toward its bolder chorus. "Every Breath You Take" requires little explanation--it is a timeless, classic pop record, even if it is erroneously appropriated for wedding reception music (Dido's "Don't Leave Home" would later suffer the same fate). The moody, jazzy tracks "Tea in the Sahara" and "Murder By Numbers" shift the album away from its pop core for the closing.
An interesting and exciting album, that I'm sure for fans was a real disappointment to have never been followed up, since it was the band's final album.
Best: Every Breath You Take, Synchronicity II, Wrapped Around Your Finger, Synchronicity I