Orange Juice - You Can't Hide Your Love Forever (1982)
Strap on your legwarmers, pop on your shoulder pads and set your hair dryer to stun as we take a retrospective look at our favourite 80s pop records and their influence on current styles.
In the early 1980s, when British post-punk was at its heyday, Glaswegian band Orange Juice emerged as something very different. As remarked by cultural historian Simon Reynolds in his book Rip It Up and Start Again, the core of Orange Juice’s sound lay in “the sparkling drive of rhythm guitar played at double time to the drum beat”. Or to put it simply, Orange Juice had merged late-era Velvet Underground and disco band Chic to produce an album that packed quite a punch. Embracing melodically driven sounds, their 1982 debut was undoubtedly refreshing, yet with remnants of their punk roots. Launched just ten months before releasing “Rip It Up”, the band’s only UK Top 40 hit, You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever proudly displayed their signature blend (and sometimes, clash) of polished pop and raw attitude.
The album opens with a reworking of the band’s early single, “Falling and Laughing”, that features pop guitar jangles interwoven with gentle sways. Singer-songwriter Edwyn Collins takes comfort in his moment of rejection: “So I’m standing here so lonely / What can I do / But learn to laugh at myself.” The song’s final minute closes with panic-ridden guitar streaks and the crumbling of Collins’ voice as he croaks, “The pleasure with the pain pain pain pain pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-in”. Collins’ voice has been compared to “a tipsy man launching into an after-dinner speech with his mouth still full of port and walnuts” in a Guardian review. His voice certainly calls for an acquired taste but truthfully, his quavering vocals consists of a certain gruff and bashful hollowness that emulates the band’s fringe position. The angst-ridden lyrics are infected with a shameless proclamation of love, making “Falling and Loving” the perfect introduction for the band’s sound.
Even with the prolific disjointed guitar riffs, there’s still the endearing 80s cheese in this record, such as with the Al Green-sampling “L.O.V.E. Love” and the overwhelming soul-infused backup vocals in the lush “In a Nutshell” (the backups would fortunately be stripped away in the 2005 compilation The Glasgow School). James Kirk takes over vocal and songwriting duties in the remarkably poppy “Three Cheers for Our Side” and the tender, dreamy lullaby of “Wan Light”, a song where he ponders upon the infectious joy in meeting someone new, “Is this what life is all about?”. Kirk’s stylings is complimentary to Collins’s, as found in the Kirk-penned “Felicity”, a song that opens with Collins’s soul-infused “whoa, whoa” followed by lively keyboards and engaging guitar whines.
It is interesting to note that even with their prominent pop infusion, You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever is never strictly pop. Similarly, with Orange Juice’s “punk” stylings, the album cannot be classified as punk, either, but more likely under the awkward bracket of post-punk. Yet, perhaps it could be argued that You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever marks the birth of indie pop. Orange Juice went against the dreary gloom of punk, rebelling against the rebels themselves. Their unabashed declaration for love is a sharp departure from the excessive macho-ness of the rock canon, and a move towards the young innocence found in pop. Orange Juice made the conscious effort to deliver timeless, indispensable pop, while still very much entrenched in the punk stylings of that time.
One distinct way in which You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever fuses pop and punk is through Collins’ cheeky wit and cutting romantics combined with jovial tunes. The somber “Intuition Told Me (Part 1)” closes with a poignant image of a girl leaving for a dance, but “Satellite City” takes the cake. The seemingly cheery song consists of some brutally painful lyrics: “Your knife edge caress / Cuts me so deeply / There’s so bitterness / ’Cause you did it all so sweetly”, foregrounded by the sparkly, bouncy guitar sounds and a twinkling xylophone. “Consolation Prize” gets top marks for hilarity: “I wore my fringe like Roger McGuinn’s / I was hoping to impress / So frightfully camp, it made you laugh / Tomorrow I’ll buy myself a dress / How ludicrous”.
Orange Juice today is often unfortunately overlooked, especially when their music has been profoundly significant. The Smiths were initially compared to them, when they first appeared (fun fact: Collins used to dedicate the Orange Juice song “I Guess I’m Just A Little Too Sensitive” for Morrissey when the band was on tour in the mid 1980s). You can hear elements of Orange Juice’s frank audacity in 1990s Brit-pop bands, their signature guitars in indie darlings like The Drums and Two Door Cinema Club, and most definitely, their influence with contemporary Scottish bands like Belle & Sebastian and Franz Ferdinand. Even the way the band dressed — from Collins’ floppy fringe to their tweed-wearing ways — makes them the pioneers of how we see indie today.
You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever was also the one and only album Collins and Kirk made before parting ways. The slick, sophisticated pop and jarring guitar interplay made this record quintessentially indie pop. Thirty years on, Orange Juice undoubtedly still retains its wholesome charm and refreshing appeal, much like the beverage itself.