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Radar – Lost In The Atlantic

Lost In The Atlantic
by Kenn Staub at 10 March 2021, 3:04 PM

RADAR’s “Lost In The Atlantic” brought back memories of wandering cluelessly through Chess King (a fashionable men’s clothing store) some 35 years ago as my then girlfriend (now wife) attempted to perform a wardrobe makeover on me. And for good reason. Recorded in 1985 but unreleased until February 2021 (when a limited run of 1000 CDs were issued), the album is an unearthed time capsule of mid-1980s synth pop. It harkens back to when synthesizers and drum machines ruled the airwaves and served as the almost ubiquitous background of hip, young adult life (and Miami Vice). In fact, it was a backlash to just this type of music, particularly its computer driven glossiness, that is historically given credit for the rise of hardcore and the resurgence of metal.

Formed around Surrey (England) in 1981, RADAR (long since disbanded) was comprised of musicians associated with such synth pop acts as, most notably, GO WEST, ABC, and TONY HADLEY (singer of SPANDAU BALLET). They band’s only recorded effort, “Lost In the Atlantic” reflects the musical sensibilities that might be expected of musicians firmly rooted in the New Wave/New Romantic movement. The music is clean (perhaps too clean), melodically repetitive, and poppy, while the vocals are on key, never over the top, and group harmonies clear and complementary. Drum machines and bass provide a foundation for the synthesizer to play over. The guitar is there, but second fiddle to the synthesizer, deep in the overall mix or used as an accent. Only occasionally (and within reason) is the instrument allowed to step out on its own.

A Trick Of The Light” is a catchy number, as are many of the tunes that comprise “Lost In The Atlantic.” The brief guitar part is more an extended rhythm line and so obscured by the synthesizer it is hard to discern the six string as an individual instrument. “Love Wars” has a nice guitar opening, but by the time the synthesizer, drum machine, and bass jump on board it is all but buried in the musical layers (a not uncommon occurrence throughout the album).

The best examples of what could remotely be considered shredding by the guitarist are found on “Goodbye Mr. President” and “Laena.” My reluctance in using the term “shredding” stems from the fact that, though there are distinct guitar solos on each of these tracks, the playing is done in an almost compulsory, easy listening style. Both “Going Overboard” and “Lost In The City” eschew guitar solos altogether, with a saxophone taking center stage. Of the two, “Lost In The City” stood out more for me, primarily because of its brief bursts of a grinding guitar used to bridge song segments.

To RADAR’s credit, the songwriting cannot be overlooked, it’s a strong point of “Lost In The Atlantic.” RADAR had a knack for writing catchy choruses, the kind that end up playing on repeat in your head and you involuntary move your mouth along with. And amazingly, the lyrics are somewhat prescient, cases in point being “Goodbye Mr. President” and “The  Calling Time,” which repeatedly cautions “remember everything gets recorded.”

I listen to all types of music (I’ll even admit to the occasional soft spot for the poppy stylings of RICK SPRINGFIELD and CARLY RAE JEPSSON). In fact, I’m not necessarily unfamiliar with synth pop, as my wife frequently defaults to First Wave on Sirius when she has control of the car radio. That being noted, however, it is bands like RADAR and albums like “Lost In The Atlantic” that drove me to embrace the rough-edged, imperfectly genuine world of mid-1980s hardcore while in college (from which I later circled back to the metal of my teenage years).

To conclude, please keep in mind that I am writing this review as a confirmed, unapologetic metalheard for a heavy metal website. As such, though “Lost In the Atlantic” is a good example of its time and genre, I can in no way recommended it to anybody who might be reading this entry and feel patently incapable of rating it per the parameters of this website because it is, unequivocally, not metal.

Musicianship: 7
Songwriting: 8
Production: 8
Memorability: 5

3 Star Rating

1. A Trick Of The Light
2. Goodbye Mr. President
3. Laena
4. Going Overboard
5. Love Wars
6. The Calling Time
7. Lost In The City
8. Someone’s Crying
9. Look But Don’t Touch
10. Olympic Runner
Rod Jordan – Vocals & Bass
David West – Keyboards & Drum Programming
Gary Stevenson – Guitar
Mel Collins – Saxophone
Joy Martin – Backing Vocals
Peter Cox – Baking Vocals
Mark Brzezicki - Drums
Record Label: Escape Music Ltd.


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Edited 03 June 2023

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