Album Review: Outlandos D’Amour

Outlandos D’Amour, by the Police

The Police is a group that is sufficiently well-loved and with a surprisingly enough small discography that reviewing their body of work is by no means a particularly difficult task. If at the start their nervous energy allowed them to be thought of as far more punk than they were, their debut album started them off on a fast-paced path to immense worldwide fame that that overwhelmed the group, divided as it was by an increasingly productive and probably also domineering Sting, whose solo ambitions led to the destruction of the group in the mid-1980’s. For a handful of years, though, the group put out albums at a rapid pace that managed to show considerable growth and left behind some classic songs. How did they begin? Let’s find out.

“Next To You” begins the album with a high-energy relatable song about wanting to be next to one’s beloved, with some bluesy vocals by Sting. “So Lonely” provides a vivid picture of insecurity and pretense that mixes a slow verse with a fast and somewhat repetitive chorus that is filled with nervous longing. “Roxanne,” a song about a frustrated, doomed love for a prostitute, was the first big hit that the Police had, greatly helping their efforts for stardom. “Hole In My Life” is filled with more nervous and anxious energy in looking at the problems that come from loneliness and isolation, treating it like a disease. “Peanuts” provides another nervous look at relationships gone wrong and the breakdown of communication. “Can’t Stand Losing You” is another song about nervous insecurity and the despair that results from romantic troubles. “Truth Hits Everybody” is another pop-punkish song about the insecurity of life that fits in well with the general tenor of the album as a whole. “Born In The 50’s” provides a perspective of young people growing up in the midst of the paranoia of the Cold War, a theme that would be explored later by Sting in his solo work. “Be My Girl – Sally” is filled with honest directness but also a hint of immaturity in its repetitiveness, though it has an interesting and complex construction including spoken word material that discusses a sex toy as a partner. “Masoko Tanga” is a lengthy close to the album with what appears to be nonsense lyrics that ends up being an experiment relating to hypnotism and paraphysics.

If this is not the album that Sting or the other members of the Police would likely feel proud about it, it certainly marks a strong and interesting beginning for the group. Though the Police were viewed as punk poseurs during their career, this album feels more like a groundbreaking work in pop punk that would later be mimicked in many respects by later acts like Green Day, filled with nervous energy and a sense of hopelessness and insecurity about life and love that is demonstrated by the album’s material. Not too much interest in psychoanalysis is necessary to figure out that the material here is indicative of trouble, a lack of maturity, a difficulty in communication and mutual respect, and a dark view of women as sex objects–“Be My Girl – Sally” taking the ultimate step of viewing the narrator’s woman as a literal object and not even a person. It is hard to know to what extent the Police were exploring their own insecurities and immaturity or pandering to a young male British audience in the late 1970’s, but whether the album was autobiographical or mere pandering, it is a troubling but thought-provoking work at the same time.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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