Systems of Romance (Remastered)
Here, the band all but ditched the Clockwork Orange–style themes (life vs. art vs. aggression) of their two previous albums in favor of introspection and future-gazing optimism. Indeed, the cosmopolitan cityscapes still abound, as do the low-life romances involving machine-like emotions. But the hooks are honed and the ambient tones blend in beautifully (listen to the lovely, soaring “When You Walk Through Me” with its Beatle cops and key changes, or the dream-state detachment of “Slow Motion”). Rock ballast (“I Can’t Stay Long”) balances the pop wonder-all (“Someone Else’s Clothes”), while “Just for a Moment” sounds like singer/lyricist John Foxx believed in the loving grace of machines enough to pull true heartstrings. Coproduced by electronic music patriarch Conny Plank (Kraftwerk)—and with gifted rock violinist Billy Currie and unheralded guitarist Robin Simon (on his first and last album with the group) both shining—Systems of Romance had tentacles that reached far. It touched everyone from PiL, Gary Numan, and Duran Duran to Carl Craig, The Killers, and Skrillex. Midge Ure (from Rich Kids) replaced Foxx after this album's release.