Quiet Life is the third studio album by English band Japan, released firstly in Japan, Germany, Canada and other countries in December 1979, then in the UK in January 1980 (due to a delay in manufacturing the album) by record label Hansa.
The album saw a transition from the more glam rock-influenced style of previous albums into a synthpop style. Though sales were initially slow, Quiet Life was the band's first album to chart and was later certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry for sales in excess of 100,000 copies.
In 1979 Japan collaborated with famed disco producer Giorgio Moroder for the one-off single, "Life in Tokyo", which featured a dramatic stylistic shift away from the mostly guitar-driven glam rock of their first two albums into a more electronic and synth-driven dance style, prefiguring their work on Quiet Life.
Recorded in 1979 and released at the end of that year, Quiet Life was the last of three albums the band made for the Hansa-Ariola label (they switched to Virgin Records in 1980), though Hansa would later issue a compilation album (Assemblage) that consisted of non-album singles and album highlights from the band's tenure on the label. Musically, the album finds the group playing in a synthpop style.Quiet Life is often listed as one of the first albums of the New Romantic movement, though Japan always flatly denied they were New Romantics.
The album is notable for being the first album where singer David Sylvian used his newfound baritone vocal style, which became one of the band's most distinctive hallmarks.
Though initially unsuccessful upon its release in the band's native UK (where it peaked at No. 72 in February 1980), the album returned to the charts in early 1982 after the commercial success of 1981's Tin Drum and the Hansa Records compilation Assemblage. It then peaked at No. 53, two years after its original release, and was eventually certified "Gold" by the BPI in 1984 for 100,000 copies sold.
The title track, "Quiet Life", was released as a single in Japan in 1979 and in Germany in 1980. In other countries, including the band's native UK, Hansa chose to promote the album with the standalone single "I Second That Emotion" with "Quiet Life" as the B-side. Neither single was commercially successful. Eighteen months later, in line with the band's increasing popularity and media profile, Hansa released "Quiet Life" as an A-side single in the UK and Ireland in August 1981 (with the instrumental "A Foreign Place" as the B-side). The single reached No. 19 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming Japan's first UK Top 20 hit.
A second single, "All Tomorrow's Parties", was issued by Hansa in February 1983, two months after Japan had permanently disbanded, and three years after the original album release. It peaked at No. 38 in the UK.
In its retrospective review of the band, AllMusic wrote, "Quiet Life is the album that transformed Japan from past-tense glam rockers into futuristic synth popsters, though they'd been leaning in that direction for a while.". In another retrospective review, The Quietus called it "an album that pushed the elegant, improbably-coiffed Sylvian into the limelight, aided and abetted by some of the band's best songs".Quiet Life deserves to be placed alongside Travelogue, Mix-Up and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark as one of the key early British synth-based pop/rock albums, as it defined a very European form of detached, sexually-ambiguous and thoughtful art-pop, one not too dissimilar to what the ever-prescient David Bowie had delivered two years earlier with Low."
As described in the notes that accompany the 2004 reissue, this original track listing was intended to form a travelogue, but was rejected for something more commercial. The band ultimately dropped "A Foreign Place" from the track listing, but it was released on the 1981 UK single of "Quiet Life", and then on the 1984 compilation Exorcising Ghosts (although it was dropped from the CD version apart from on Japanese pressings). At one point, the band intended "European Son" and "Life in Tokyo" to be part of the travelogue (evidenced in their lyrics), but they were not included on the album.