July 31, 2019 A Flock of Seagulls – Inflight (Album Review)
The ubiquitous A Flock of Seagulls inadvertently became the poster band of New Wave music primarily because of the flamboyant hairstyle of its members, particularly the so-described waterfall bangs of its frontman, during their heyday in the 1980s. However, to the initiated and to those who pay attention to musicality and not just to aesthetics, the music of the English group should be the focus of study. Even with this, A Flock of Seagulls still deserve to be hailed as an icon in the genre New Wave because their music defines the typical, middle-of-the-spectrum sound of New Wave: flanger and reverb-heavy, angular guitar strums; melodic keyboard lines and synth washes; dancey drumbeats; groove-driven bass lines; and icy, low-register vocal styling.
Formed in 1980, in Liverpool, England, A Flock of Seagulls were in the epicenter of New Wave when the genre was at its peak. Despite the band’s having changed lineup and laid low by the mid-’90s through the 2000s, Mike Score soared with new members and took the seagulls into the current decade. However, it would take him and the rest of A Flock of Seagulls two decades before they would be able to follow up their last album, 1995’s Light at the End of the World. In 2018, all four original members—Frontman Score (keyboards, vocals), Frank Maudsley (bass), Paul Reynolds (guitar), and Ali Score (drums)—reunited to release Ascension – a re-recording of a selection of their hit songs, with accompaniment by The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
Now, only a year after, A Flock of Seagulls unleash the follow-up—Inflight – a collection of extended versions of some of their choice songs. Released on Friday, July 12th via August Day, Inflight opens with the ubiquitous “I Ran (So Far Away),” which will automatically transcend the listener back to the glorious days of ’80s New Wave—flamboyant, over-the-top, aesthetic—the way it should be! Following next is another one from the seminal debut album, the haunting “Modern Love Is Automatic.” Then there is the mighty “Space Age Love Song”—still the heartrending New Wave power dance ballad—whose synth drone, angular rhythm guitar, keyboard and guitar melodies, as well as New Romantic lyrics never fail, again and again, to pull nostalgic tears from the very eyes of those who lived and breathed New Wave in its heyday.
Inflight continues with an eight-minute-and-a-half saccharine overdose of the fan favorite “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You).” Next is “The More You Live, the More You Love”—the finest moment of A Flock of Seagulls in their third album, 1984’s The Story of a Young Heart—another goosebump experience. Score and the rest of the seagulls then turn a bit Gothic and subdued with their dark and brooding song “Nightmares.” With “D.N.A.,” the flock revert again to their Kraftwerkian Synthpop beginnings—classic and iconic.
Another one from 1983’s Listen comes next in the form of the robotic sensibilities of “Electrics,” to be followed by “Man Made.” Then finally, A Flock of Seagulls finish up Inflight with one of their most iconic and beloved songs—the beautiful “Transfer Affection,” from the brilliant past of New Wave’s golden period.
Score and the rest of A Flock of Seagulls have definitely scored another masterpiece in this collection of extended version of familiar hits. While the flock are yet to come up with a new album of new materials, feast and travel with the fine beauty of Inflight. If the sound of Inflight is a foreshadowing of the new album, then fans are definitely in for a great treat. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Inflight 4 out 5 stars.