Specifically, "In a Place Like This" - the title track of the band's full-length 1981 debut album - rocks with an earnest fury not often heard in the North American new wave scene so popular at the time. Aside from a thrumming synthesizer opening, the song focuses squarely on Hyde's compelling vocals and Rock's assertive guitar. Even better, the lyrics lay out a compelling narrative of a struggling male protagonist who just wants to escape the drudgery of an ordinary, stifling life. One attempted path for such transcendence traditionally lies in the perceived glitz and glory of rock and roll, but Hyde and Rock already knew and would later learn more than anyone how fleeting and frustrating such a pursuit can be. So I guess it's rather fitting in a morose sort of way that this genuinely exciting rock band never really found a sizable audience outside its native Canada, at least not one commensurate to its leaders' simple, gritty charms. Certainly, no one wants to live or die "in a place like this" when that place has a tendency to feel like a variation on death all along. This is powerful stuff that deserves to be heard and savored.
- Listen to "In a Place Like This" in its entirety here.
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Album Cover Image Courtesy of A&M