Points On The Curve, by Wang Chung
Although they are best remembered for their smash hit “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” so much so that the band has often been labeled (incorrectly) as a one-hit wonder, in reality the band had four albums in the 1980s that all spawned at least one song on the Hot 100, and that hot streak started right from the gate when the first song from this album became a moderate hit. “Dance Hall Days” seems like a quirky enough hit, one that was not intentionally made to be hooky and a smash, but a song that captures a certain vibe, one that reflects nostalgia and itself seems to have spurred a certain amount of nostalgia later on. If this is the only track going into the album that I am familiar with, it offers a good start to see if Points On The Curve offers a concept album of sorts or merely a (hopefully) enjoyable listen. Does this album have the ambition to aim for something greater than a collection of pop-rock songs or not? Let’s find out.
The album begins with the aforementioned hit, “Dance Hall Days,” with its driving beat and relaxed lyrics that express an enjoyment of love and dancing. It’s an easy song to appreciate and pretty relatable, even if some of the lyrics are a bit darker than one would expect. “Wait,” a song with a rather nervous musical background, later appeared on the group’s second album, “To Live And Die In L.A.,” and has a spare musical production while its lyrics talk about waiting for people and being impatient about it. “True Love” gives comforting lyrics about the power of love, but in a disturbing, almost industrial sort of beat that undercuts whatever romanticism it might provide. “The Waves” has an inviting instrumental sound, with lyrics that reflect a sense of anxiety and ennui about life, including a call back to the previous song. “Look At Me Now” has a brave sound to go with its lyrical shift between seeking to disguise the self but also demand attention. “Don’t Let Go” is the second most popular song on this album on Spotify, and provides a nervous song about devotion and persistence in love, making it a pretty relatable song. “Even If You Dream” reflects an ambivalent sense of wanting to be close to someone even if they are dreaming about someone else, with the same sort of angular production that the album as a whole has. “Don’t Be My Enemy” is a bit repetitive but its sentiment is easy enough to understand and provides an ominous sort of warning about how relationships can go sour. “Devoted Friends” focuses again on the complications of relationships and the contrary pulls of desiring to be happy for friends while feeling sad for oneself, because of the way that romantic love shifts a friendship to different terrain. “Talk It Out” ends the album with a boldly generous offer to be a sounding board for someone to communicate with in the recognition of the difficultes of life.
Points On The Curve shows Wang Chung at the very beginning of their career. It is fortunate that “Dance Hall Days” was so accessible as to hit the charts and give the band some early momentum, because the rest of the album is made up of rather reflective and often melancholy songs with austere 80s production that deal with the subjects of love and relationships. This is not necessarily groundbreaking material, and Wang Chung would become far more ambitious about their song material in later albums, but even at their beginning they offered a complex emotional approach to subjects of widespread interest. If this album’s production is particularly dated and features a sometimes jarring mix of synthetic sounds and industrial beats and more organic instrumentation, to say nothing of the group’s thoughtful lyrics, this is still a solid debut that is worth checking out if you like where Wang Chung ended up.