The 1980s phase of New Wave music was really a mine of classic songs and memorable bands. Many of these, sadly, despite their having enjoyed the decade’s vibrancy and shown great promise, had fell off the ledge a bit early in the party, managing to release only an album or two and then they faded away in obscurity.
However, in fairness with these short-lived bands, their meager outputs could also stand at par with those of their more successful contemporaries. After all, at the after-party, every single one of them deserves a well-meant congratulatory handshake and a sincere smile of gratitude for leaving the revelers with even only a handful of beautiful songs that carry with them equally priceless memories. One of the memorable ones was the 1982-forming Naked Eyes, which will always be remembered even if only for the English band’s enduring song “Always Something There to Remind Me.” The album where this popular and chart-topping song came from has just turned 35, so it is only fitting to remind New Wave enthusiasts to play the entire album one more time as homage to this 35-year-old debut work of Pete Byrne (vocals) and the late Rob Fisher (keyboards/synthesizer) – the brain and the heart behind Naked Eyes.
Released on March 16, 1983, on EMI Records, Burning Bridges is the first of the only two albums that the duo Naked Eyes were able to release. Its first blink was the subtly dark, Synthpop, mid-tempo “Voices in My Head,” whose flickering synthesizer melodies would certainly take the listener to the center of the ’80s New Wave dance floor. This was followed by the graceful and soulful sway of “I Could Show You How,” which would still fit a playlist that includes Thompson Twins’ “Lay Your Hands on Me,” King’s “Won’t You Hold My Hand Now,” and Level 42’s “Heaven in My Hands.”
“A Very Hard Act to Follow” was a bit experimental and progressive. With its ornate percussive elements, changing tempos, stops and starts, and cyclical keyboard melodies, it exudes clear echoes of Berlin’s “The Metro” and SSQ’s “Synthicide.” Next was not only the duo’s crowning glory but, in fact, one of the all-time international anthems of New Wave enthusiasts – “Always Something There to Remind Me,” which was actually Byrne and Fisher’s superb and majestic rendition of the 1964 song written by the creative tandem of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The mood then turned a bit spacey and groovy with the Sophistipop swing of “Fortune & Fame.” Following aptly in a similar style of balladry, the saxophone-adorned “Could Be” was surely the theme of countless starry-eyed couples and lovers in those days of New Wave–themed prom nights.
Naked Eyes reverted to their danceable rhythms with the upbeat, bass-driven, and slightly edgy title track as well as with the Kraftwerkian “Emotion in Motion,” which exuded also faint reverberations of O.M.D. (“Talking Loud and Clear”) and B-Movie (“Switch On, Switch Off”). The lights then flickered faster and shone brighter as the horn-orchestrated “Low Life” played next, only to turn dim again to give way to another New Romantic ballad, “The Time Is Now.” Then, “When the Lights Go Out” ensued appealingly with its rather more engaging beat and instrumentation, breaking the entangled dance-floor couples into more animatedly moving dancing partners.
Finally, Naked Eyes ended Burning Bridges with their second-most popular song – the angular, funky, and unforgettable “Promises, Promises.” Whether those promises were broken or fulfilled, it does not matter anymore. At least, Naked Eyes left something to remind everyone that there was glory in the past that is worth remembering.
Yes, Naked Eyes may have been relegated to the fringes of the New Wave sphere quite quickly, but the significance of Burning Bridges as an essential relic from the musically monumental ’80s could never be underestimated. Some of its songs to this day still resonate on various radio stations and even on the loudspeakers of the audio systems of homes with parents who were cool New Wavers in the 1980s, reminding listeners – young and old – never ever to burn bridges to the benevolent past; for in doing so, one also inadvertently obliterates special memories that the past holds.
Whatever happens, there will always be something there to remind you of who you really are. So, look back, pause, and listen again to Burning Bridges. Thirty-five years of a life worth remembering, on a background of Naked Eyes songs that have also been a part of the soundtrack of your enduring journey to a glorious destination.
“Arm in arm we laugh like kids / At all the silly things we did.”