Vocabulary LP Reviews
'Melody Maker' October 1983
LP Review by Paul Strange
I can easily understand why a lot of people have no time for the Europeans. When they burst into the limelight last summer, they sported a rather unpleasant all-white athletic look, made worse by silly masks and the highly affected yodel of their debut single "The Animal Song".
"Dickheads", "prattheads" and "wallies" were the cheerful, predictable, printable and possibly justified comments from many Melody Maker staffers at the time. More importantly, the public paid absolutely no attention to the band either, and, so far as Britain is concerned, continue to ignore them.
When A&M first signed guitarist Colin Woore, bassist Ferg Harper, keyboardist Steve Hogarth and drummer Geoff Dugmore, they were excellent musicians. Now, a thankful change of image (currently they're into fluffed up, bleached out hair and scowling faces), constant gigging, and some success in the States has improved them even more. But as their debut LP "Vocabulary" shows, it's the songs and arrangements that often let them down.
Too often shades of other bands creep into their material. At its most blatant, the Europeans borrow the heavily flanged thumping drum intro of Ultravox's "All Stood Still" and use it for their own "Falling", while on a lesser scale, touches of Japan and Simple Minds peep through as the cuts progress.
The Europeans lack distinction and identity for much of the album and too many producers have certainly confused the bubbling broth. Ferg Harper's vocal has also become annoyingly affected.
A few highpoints: the re-mixed version of "Animal Song", with its longer intro and excellent abrasive guitar work from Woore; the vibrant clout of "A+E+I+O+U" (even if it is too long); the superbly thought out "American People" (complete with a magical instrumental break), the uplifting hook of "Falling" and the perplexing twists of "Spirit of Youth" and "Innocence".
A few lowpoints: the terribly overwrought and dirge-like "Kingdom Come", and the forgettable "Voice On The Telephone".
Middling area: the aggressive "Modern Homes" and the carefully contrived "Recognition", which has, I must admit, grown on me with repeated plays. The brass is particularly excellent.
Another grey area: where do the Europeans go from here? I'll leave that to their imagination, but I'm convinced they'll have to work much harder to make their mark.
'Sounds' 22nd October 1983
LP Review by Johnny Waller
Yet Another impetuous headlong rush in to the void: one more debut album which overstretches itself, gets flustered and thrashes around like a drowning man. Young groups are too anxious, too eager, too bloody desperate these days. Patience is a virtue, and it's good for the soul. 'Vocabulary' by contrast is too lacking in soul when it should have been oozing with the stuff.
See, the Europeans are not intrinsically a bad group - why they even have flashes of inspiration that make me think of (hush, child, show your respect) Hall'n'Oates - but these youngsters simply don't have the savvy (yet) to ease out the emotion, and so it always seems forced and unnaturally exaggerated.
Elsewhere, the over-elaborate and much too fast songs show promise and development ('American People' has a great soaring chorus : annoyingly catchy choruses are their strong suit overall), but I'm repeatedly reminded of the Thompson Twins, whom I absolutely loathe. What do you expect ? Objectivity ?
Music either inspires and delights you or it doesn't. The Europeans have the determination and even the passion to do this, but they're too busy dancing to listen to their hearts. They desperately want to be hip and modern, but 'Vocabulary' merely frustrates me with its lack of old-fashioned melodies and passion.
A wasted opportunity. I just hope they get another.
'NME' 22nd October 1983
LP Review by Chris Bohn
...cruelly bouncing round a gallery of mannerisms featuring Classix, Nouveaux, Dexys and Devo. From these same sources, they've woven a safety net of overworked post '77 youth platitudes: communication, alienation, racial delineation, not forgetting obfuscation. 'Europeans go home' might not have the same ring as the yankee variant, but for the moment there's no doubting the justice of the sentiment."
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