Date: 27 May 2022
Originally published in: Classic Rock (UK)
Written by: Alex Burrows
Essential early-80s new wave on colour-splattered vinyl. Woah-oh!
Kim Wilde’s first two albums evoke new wave perfectly, capturing the bleak post-punk futurist period with meticulously arranged songs without a pop gloss that instead absorbed the nihilist rebellion of punk. That rock sensibility belied the previous career of chief songwriter Marty Wilde (Kim’s dad) with a sound influenced by electronic synth-pop pioneers of the era – Ultravox, Gary Numan, OMD at al.
Standing the test of time, Kids In America remains an absolute banger. Subsequent singles from the self-titled debut (7/10) – Chequered Love and Water On Glass – could never have realistically reflected the colossal global impact of Kids, yet they’re equally important new-wave classics despite Wilde’s uncertain vocal range; work on the debut began when she was only 19.
Select (8/10) blew the concept of the ‘difficult second album’ out of the water. The Numanesque electro menace of Cambodia and the claustrophobic View From A Bridge provided a darker direction with a considerably more maturesounding Wilde. Her third album, 1983’s Catch As Catch Can (5/10), was a relative commercial failure; while the first two were agenda-setting, the sub-Duran Duranism of Catch rested on its laurels. The same year, New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies had already pointed the way out of the era’s new-wave synth-pop cul de sac.