The Passions, probably known mainly to most as archeypal 'One Hit Wonders' for their 1981 I'm in Love With a German Film Star, which made # 25 on the UK Singles Chart in 1981 and seemed to hang around forever. It nailed much of the atmosphere of the time. Gloomy, arty, vaguely nostalgic, and with a tangible layer of implicit dread. Or if you prefer, drenched in atmosphere and doomed, thwarted romance.
But there's more to them than that. Several years back I chanced upon and bought their 1980 debut album Michael & Miranda, and it's one I still play and enjoy. Full of clipped, jagged, angular posing that was so much a feature of the alternative set of the time and which the likes of Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Cure, Japan and Magazine specialised in. Sculptured hair, sharp cheekbones, method posing. European Arthouse Films, cigarettes and Existential Novels.An atmosphere drawn from one of Graham Greene's Thirties Thrillers. Or Isherwood's Berlin Novels.
In many ways it's a small classic of this particular genre. The songs have not an inch of unecessary fat. Everything is lean, poised and perfectly posed. Like a copy of The Face from the time with one of the latest hopefuls from The Blitz Club glaring out from the cover.
But this stays the course and stands the test of time better than some higher profile records from that period; Journeys to Glory or Return to Eden for example. Nothing outstays its welcome, each song casts a sparse, paranoid spell of long coated, Film Noir, urban melodrama.
The Passions don't overdo the pretentiousness factor like The Banshees were wont to from time to time round about then. In many ways their role models seem to be the early Cure who specialised in this kind of clipped Penguin Classic gloom. The Passions were on Fiction, The Cure's record label and in many ways this comes across as a companion piece to Seventeen Seconds.
Twelve songs in all, and not a dud amongst them. Michael & Miranda made a negligible commercial splash at the time which is a shame because it's a record that more people should know. The band recorded a couple more and were gone by '83. This is where to start.