Four favourite albums from 1986

1986 was a huge year for albums, including releases from Queen, The Smiths, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Pet Shop Boys, Genesis, Spandau Ballet, Tina Turner and many, many more. I recently realised that four of my favourite albums are from this year, too. Here they are, in the order of release date:

Talk Talk – The Colour of Spring. Talk Talk’s third album crossed over from synths to more natural sounds. As with anything by Talk Talk, the whole record is a sonic delight, with even the silences perfectly arranged. It has a different energy to their previous two albums and paves the way for the next.

Depeche Mode – Black Celebration. A popular fan-favourite despite not having any chart-busting singles, Depeche Mode’s fifth album has a warm, almost claustrophobic atmosphere, which ought to be at odds with the industrial sounds. It’s also interesting for the innovation and use of sampling.

Crowded House – Crowded House. Their debut album has a little Split Enz mania mixed in with an exuberant rock-pop sound. ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ is of course the stand-out track, among fierce contenders such as ‘Something So Strong’, ‘World Where You Live’ and ‘Mean To Me’.

Kraftwerk – Electric Café (aka Techno Pop). The ninth album from the pioneering group is cool in both senses of the word. Although its appeal is not as immediate as, say, The Man-Machine, the more you listen, the more you like it. The themes are telephones and electro-pop itself.

Album covers of 1986

Being the music nerd that I am, I pondered the links between these bands and albums, but the only ones I’m certain about are that Kraftwerk and Talk Talk were influences on Depeche Mode and that Electric Café was mixed by François Kevorkian, who would later work on DM’s Violator. We’re left with some mere coincidences: Black Celebration and Crowded House both have songs with ‘world’ in the title, Black Celebration and The Colour of Spring both have songs with ‘time’ in the title, and that Black Celebration has the song ‘Fly on the Windscreen’ while The Colour of Spring has moths (not flies) on the cover artwork.

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