Electronic (album)

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Electronic
Fact290.jpg
Studio album by
Released27 May 1991
28 February 1994 (remastered)
RecordedDecember 1989–early 1991
StudioClear Studios, Manchester
GenreAlternative dance, synthpop, Alternative rock
Length47:17 (UK)
52:29 (international)
LabelFactory (UK)
Virgin (Europe)
Warner Bros. (Australia, Canada, Japan, US)
ProducerBernard Sumner, Johnny Marr
Electronic chronology
Electronic
(1991)
Raise the Pressure
(1996)

Electronic is the self-titled debut studio album by the British group Electronic, consisting of Bernard Sumner, the former guitarist and keyboardist of Joy Division and the lead singer and guitarist of New Order and Johnny Marr, the former guitarist of The Smiths. It was first released in May 1991 on the Factory label.

The album was a commercial and critical success, reaching number 2 in the United Kingdom and selling over a million copies worldwide. By the year 2000 Electronic had sold 240,000 copies in the USA.[1]

Recording[edit]

The bulk of Electronic was written in 1990, with sessions beginning that January at Johnny Marr's home studio in Manchester.[2] "Gangster" dated from an aborted solo album Bernard Sumner began work on in the mid-eighties,[3] while "Reality" was written around 1988 when he and Marr first began working together.[4] "The Patience of a Saint" also predated the album, having been written with Pet Shop Boys soon after their collaborating with singer Neil Tennant on "Getting Away with It" in 1989.[5]

Several other songs were also completed by August 1990 (namely "Idiot Country", "Tighten Up", "Soviet", "Get the Message" and "Try All You Want") as they were performed live at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles when Electronic supported Depeche Mode[6] (although "Try All You Want" was played as an instrumental[7] and several songs had working titles[8]).

The LP subtly fused Marr's guitar playing with Sumner's synthesiser expertise, most prominently on "Idiot Country", "Feel Every Beat", "Tighten Up" and "Get the Message". Lyrically the subject matter was varied, from the aggressive targeting of rave culture by police in Britain ("Idiot Country" and "Feel Every Beat"[3]) to monogamy and emotional ambivalence ("Reality", "Try All You Want"). "The Patience of a Saint" featured a witty, sardonic duet between Bernard Sumner and Neil Tennant.

Artwork[edit]

The album cover was designed by Johnson/Panas (Trevor Johnson) with two separate photographs superimposed with a computer screen effect. The hand-rendered lettering was based on typographer Wim Crouwel's Stedelijk Museum alphabet;[9] the 1994 remaster used the design from a 1991 promotional poster with the typeface (Avenir) from the sleevenotes.

Critical reception and charts[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[10]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[11]
Entertainment WeeklyA[12]
NME8/10[13]
Q5/5 stars[14]
Vox10/10[15]

Upon its release the album was unanimously praised in the mainstream music press. Writing in Melody Maker, Paul Lester stated: "Each song is crammed with elaborate details and merits a treatise. Very basically, we're talking Europop, my all-time favourite genre. The overall effect is one of swirling magnificence". He concluded that Electronic was "one of the greatest albums ever made".[16]

In the NME David Quantick wrote: "This is a pretty 1990s sort of a record, fresh as a daisy and wearing huge new oxblood Doc Martens",[13] while Keith Cameron in Vox said: "Electronic is simply a 100 per cent pure distillation of Marr and Sumner's respective talents. The hit single 'Get the Message' has it in a nutshell: it breaks no new ground; it simply achieves perfection".[15]

The album received the maximum five stars in Q from Phil Sutcliffe, who wrote: "its strength is in conflict ... The inexorable pounding of the beatbox versus the fragile sadness of Sumner's voice and the he's/she's leaving stories; the symmetry of the synthesized or sampled sounds versus the sheer blood and bone physicality of Marr's guitar".[14]

Electronic was also remarked upon in the United States. In Spin magazine, Ted Friedman regarded the album as "impressive",[17] while Entertainment Weekly called it "irresistibly tuneful".[12]

At the end of 1991, NME and Melody Maker ranked it 13[18] and 15 respectively in their top albums of the year.

Charts[edit]

Chart Peak
position
UK Albums Chart 2[19]
US Billboard 200 109[20]
US Billboard Heatseekers 1[20]
German Albums Chart 97

Singles and promotion[edit]

"Get the Message" was released in April 1991 as the lead single and performed well in both Britain (number 8 on the Top 40[21]) and America (number 1 on Modern Rock Tracks[22]). In July "Tighten Up" was released as a promo in the US and reached number 6 on the same chart.[23] "Feel Every Beat" was the next international single in September and was a modest hit.

Three songs from this era were released as B-sides: "Free Will" (on "Get the Message"), and "Lean to the Inside" and "Second to None" (on "Feel Every Beat"). A number of remixes were also released, by DNA, Winston Jones/Dave Shaw and Danny Rampling/Pete Lorimer.

Sumner and Marr gave a slew of interviews in the mainstream British music press, and appeared on Friday at the Dome and MTV's 120 Minutes to support the album. "Get the Message" was also promoted by two mimed performances on Top of the Pops.[24]

Electronic performed at the Cities in the Park festival in August, where Pet Shop Boys guested on "Getting Away with It", and played three dates in Paris, Glasgow and London in December 1991. (A tour of North America in October/November with dance acts as support was cancelled.[25]) Pet Shop Boys joined Sumner and Marr for three numbers in the last concert, namely "Getting Away with It", "The Patience of a Saint" and the then-unreleased song "Disappointed".

Track listings and reissues[edit]