|'The Luxury Gap' reviewed by Jim Reid in "Record Mirror" April 1983|
When the original Human League split, the odds were on Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh's new project Heaven 17 being the more successful of the two new factions. After all, Phil Oakey had a pierced nipple and a funny haircut. How wrong we all were.
Whilst the Heaven 17 team of Ware, Craig Marsh, and vocalist Glenn Gregory have won all the critical accllaim, Oakey and his girls have been getting all the hits.
Heaven 17 have remainded a puzzling proposition; very strong on ideas, very near to the perfect 1980's pop sound ... and yet forever losing the match in extra time.
'The Luxury Gap' is a flawed record. And yet its defects only serve to illustrate the scale of Heaven 17's ambition.
'The Luxury Gap' is a tensely woven struggle between desire and reality. Aspiration and limitation. As such its story is particularly pertinent to life in a collapsing economy - ie Britain.
Just as Heaven 17's music - an intelliigent mix of new tech and old fashioned sweat - understands the use of machines, so does their story. First track 'Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry', is a neat argument for the creation of leisure and wealth via new technology.
Heaven 17 are very much a group of their time. Their songs, 'Kuxury Gap' - about credit card fantasies - deal with the present factually, and aim at the future with some ideology.
Though the ideas are strong, the execution often does little justice to the imagination that fed it. Heaven 17's music could (and can) be a sensous thing; a heady mixture of dance floor awareness and high tech intelligence.
Unfortunately too often there is a cold, antiseptic feel to Heaven 17's music. And that's a real pity, for Heaven 17 have it in them to be one of the most powerful groups of their age.
++++ out of 5