Mike Pollock’s name seems to pop up all over the place in the Icelandic music scene during the 1980s. He was a member of Utangarðsmenn, Bodies, and Das Kaptial, plus released a solo album called Take Me Back in 1981. The singer/guitarist covered a lot of musical ground from punk to hard rock to folk. Not bad for a kid born in California and who didn’t move to Iceland until the 1970s when he was already a young adult. By 1984 he was ready to take on something new: new wave.
As he does on Take Me Back, Pollock sings in English on 1984, making the album much more approachable for non-Icelandic speakers. It’s a new wave record, but certainly one with other musical influences such as disco (“Boogie Man”) and some heavy doses of funk (“1984”). The sound is a bit on the darker side of new wave, with a dive bar vibe, a feeling like you’re in a big, impersonal city on a cold rainy night and need to hunker down for a bit and have a shot and a smoke before going back outside. It’s right there in the song titles – “New York,” “Berlin,” “Babylon,” “Armagedon,” [sic] and “1984” (about an Orwellian not-so-distant future). Side B in particular captures a feeling of alienation that is difficult to escape.
Just because you’re paranoid,
That doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you.
1984 is a solid new wave effort, every bit as good as the more well-known albums coming out at the time. Definitely worth a listen.