“Dare” - The Human League
By: Evan Ferstl
After the other two founding members of The Human League left the band, Phil Oakey moved forward with lineup changes and a new musical style, culminating in 1981’s “Dare.” This album became the height of the band’s commercial success, loaded with singles and featuring the vocal talents of newly recruited singers Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall. Through the synthesizers and Oakey’s detached, robotic vocals that dominate the album, “Dare” helped launch the popularity of synth-pop, a genre that would define the decade.
The album begins with its best song, “The Things That Dreams Are Made Of,” which works primarily because of its haunting, perfect synthesizer lines despite obtuse lyrics (“Everybody needs two or three friends”). This characteristic repeats throughout the entire album, as the band demonstrates prowess in crafting memorable synth hooks but fails to back them up with much substance. The choruses on “Do or Die” and “I Am the Law” come off as especially inane, comprised of meaningless cliches and surface-level commentary. The album closes with the smash hit “Don’t You Want Me,” which still enjoys frequent radio play today but is the only song on the album where a major part is given to one of the female vocalists.
“Dare” is not a bad album by any means. In fact, it’s the closest to a quality release that The Human League ever had in their career. However, it should be remembered primarily for its musical influence and not because the songs themselves have much to say