Modern English: After the Snow


ON THIS DATE (29 YEARS AGO)
May 3, 1982 – Modern English: After the Snow is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5
# allmusic 4/5
After the Snow is Modern English’s second album, released on this date in May, 1982 on 4AD Records in the United Kingdom, Vertigo Records in Canada and Sire Records in the United States. It featured the original recording of the now classic tune “I Melt with You,” which the band would later re-record in 1990 for their album Pillow Lips.
If you lived through the ’80s without hearing Modern English then you must have been on a desert island. After the Snow’s “I Melt With You” is the quintessential new wave love song; the phrase “mesh and lace,” as used in that hit tune, defined the style adopted by other groups in the New Romantic vein, bands whose recordings and images were characterized by emotional sensitivity and a jaded hardness.
After the Snow yielded only one hit for Modern English, despite the fact that the entire album is pop material. Guitar-driven melodies colored with atmospheric synth work give the album a romantic edge. Songs such as “Someone’s Calling” and “Life in the Gladhouse” attest to the fact that Modern English was more than a one-trick pony, while “Dawn Chorus” and “Carry Me Down” are sheer sonic poetry. After the SnowW is well deserving of its classic status.
REVIEW
by Ned Raggett, allmusic
“I’ll Melt With You” will forever be the one specific moment that’s Modern English’s place in pop history, but the album it came from, After the Snow, isn’t anything to sneeze at. Indeed, in transforming from the quite fine but dour young miserabilists on Mesh & Lace to a brighter incarnation who still had a melancholy side, the quintet found exactly the right combination best-suited for their abilities. Like contemporaries B-Movie and the Sound, Modern English used punk and post-punk roots as a chance to introduce a haunting, beautiful take on romance and emotion, while the contributions of Stephen Walker on keyboard helped make the album both of its time and timeless. That said, the secret weapon on the album is the rhythm section of Michael Conroy and Richard Brown, able to shift from the polite but relentless tribal beat clatter on the excellent “Life in the Gladhouse” to the ever more intense punch of the title track, the album’s unheralded masterpiece. None of this is to denigrate the contributions of singer Robbie Grey and guitarist Gary McDowell. The former’s seemingly mannered singing actually shows a remarkable fluidity at points — “After the Snow” again is a good reference point, as is the fraught, slow-burn epic “Dawn Chorus” — while McDowell works around the band’s various arrangements instead of trying to dominate them. Some songs, like “Face of Wood,” even find Modern English — often dogged with Joy Division comparisons early on — predicting where New Order would go before that band got there itself. Still, “I Melt With You” is the main reason most will want to investigate further. A perfect pop moment that didn’t have to strain for it, its balance of giddy sentiment and heartfelt passion matched with a rush of acoustic and electric guitar overdubs just can’t be beat.
TRACKS:
All songs written and arranged by Modern English.
“Someone’s Calling” 4:01
“Life in the Gladhouse” 4:38
“Face of Wood” 5:56
“Dawn Chorus” 4:43
“I Melt with You” 4:10 (length incorrectly listed as 3:49)
“After the Snow” 3:51
“Carry Me Down” 5:25
“Tables Turning” 4:33
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