Secrets (The Human League album)

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Human League Secrets.jpg
Studio album by
Released6 August 2001
GenrePop, electronic
LabelPapillon Records
ProducerToy (Dave Clayton and Kerry Hopwood)
The Human League chronology
Singles from Secrets
  1. "All I Ever Wanted"
    Released: 23 July 2001
  2. "Love Me Madly?"
    Released: 2003
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[1]
Edmonton Journal3.5/5 stars[3]
The Guardian4/5 stars[4]
The Independent4/5 stars[5]
Montreal Gazette3.5/5 stars[6]
Q4/5 stars[7]
The Times4/5 stars[8]
Uncut4/5 stars[9]
Vancouver Sun2.5/5 stars[10]

Secrets is the eighth studio album recorded by British synthpop band The Human League. It was issued in 2001 by Papillon Records and was the Human League's first studio album in six years. The album was well-received by critics but performed poorly commercially.[11]


As with their previous album Octopus, the band was presented as a trio of singers Philip Oakey, Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley (credited by her married name Susan Ann Gayle, which she would later drop professionally in October 2007), although band member Neil Sutton also contributed songwriting and keyboard parts. Following the band's short stint with East West Records for their successful top-ten 1995 album Octopus, they signed to Papillon Records in May 2000 and began recording new tracks for the album with production team TOY, made up of former ABC member Dave Clayton, Q and Kerry Hopwood, at the act's studio in Sheffield.[12] In a Guardian interview to promote the record, Oakey spoke of the personal difficulties that he and Sulley had experienced during the nineties. At times both had medicated with Prozac to cope. He said: Secrets has "the overall feeling of mental illness about it."[13] The album contains sixteen tracks, seven of which are short, instrumental transitional compositions.


The album was released in the UK 6 August 2001.[1] It opened on the UK Albums Chart at number 44,[14] selling only 4,143 copies in its first week.[15] It is their joint-lowest charting UK album along with Credo released a decade later in 2011.[14] Commercial success was hampered due to the bankruptcy of Papillon (a division of Chrysalis Records) shortly after its release.[16] On the poor charting, Oakey said in 2008: "That took us aback for a bit. We realized that we have to find different ways to get our music to people. And to be honest, listeners have grown older. They don't go out of their way to find music like they did when they were teens."[17] As of March 2011, the album had total sales of 11,854 copies.[15] Secrets was released in the United States on Ark21 Records November 2001.[18] The first single "All I Ever Wanted" returned the Human League to the UK Singles Chart after a five-year absence peaking at number forty-seven.[14] In 2003, after the collapse of Papillon Records, a follow-up single from Secrets, "Love Me Madly?," was released privately by Michiel Van Bokhorst's Nukove Records, a company set up especially to release Human League records.[19] The album was reissued as a deluxe 2CD version in April 2018 by Edsel Records.[20] As part of Record Store Day 2018, the album was issued for the first time as a three-sided double LP white vinyl.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

The album was generally well-received by critics in the UK.[11] The Times gave a positive review. David Stubbs wrote: "Secrets is a pleasing mixture of old style Human League and state-of-the-art techno pop. Songs such as All I Ever Wanted and Liar are splendidly melodramatic, with Phil Oakey's voice the perfect antidote to the sub-Mariah [Carey] vocal aerobics peddled by today's pop groups."[8] The Guardian's Betty Clarke was also favourable. She wrote: "Philip Oakey still writes catchy yet ambiguous pop songs, and his voice manages to be both severe and tender... This isn't just a return to form: it stands alone as completely brilliant."[4] Steven Clark of The List was very favourable, and called it a "return to the trademark Human League sound... to say it's their best album since Dare is faint praise." He concluded, saying: "[S]o the fact that in 2001 they are actually valid and making excellent pop music puts the Human League back to the top of the league."[22]

Some critics were more mixed and felt the music lacked the hooks of their early hits. Wayne Hoffman of Billboard wrote: "Seven instrumental interludes offer some respite from uninspired lyrics. But there's little new ground broken here. And one key ingredient of Human League's recipe is lacking: irresistible hooks that drove such hits as "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" and "Human."[23] Likewise, Andy Gill of The Independent felt the band had made little progress from their "Dare heyday". While he named some tracks on the album to be admired, he felt that "the hooks here aren't anywhere near as adhesive as 'Love Action' and 'Don't You Want Me'."[24] The BBC's Tim Masters however, disagreed with this stance, saying: "After some disappointing albums in the late 80s and early 90s, the Human League have achieved that rarest of feats: a record with more hooks than a fisherman's kit bag. The opening track 'All I Ever Wanted' is like the last two decades never happened."[25]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "All I Ever Wanted" (Philip Oakey, Neil Sutton)
  2. "Nervous" (Oakey, Sutton, Toy) +
  3. "Love Me Madly?" (Oakey, Sutton)
  4. "Shameless" (Oakey, Sutton)
  5. "122.3 BPM" (Oakey, Sutton, Toy) +
  6. "Never Give Your Heart" (Oakey, Sutton)
  7. "Ran" (Oakey, Sutton) +
  8. "The Snake" (Oakey, Sutton)
  9. "Ringinglow" (Oakey, Sutton, Toy) +
  10. "Liar" (Oakey, Sutton)
  11. "Lament" (Sutton) +
  12. "Reflections" (Steve Fellowes, Oakey)
  13. "Brute" (Oakey) +
  14. "Sin City" (Oakey)
  15. "Release" (Sutton) +
  16. "You'll Be Sorry" (Oakey, Sutton)

+ indicates instrumental transitional track

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2001) Peak
German Albums Chart[26] 64
UK Albums Chart[14] 44


  1. ^ a b Allmusic review
  2. ^ Wade, Ian (3 August 2001). "Human League - Secrets (Papillon)". Dotmusic. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  3. ^ Sperounes, Sandra (30 March 2002). "New releases". Edmonton Journal. p. E3.
  4. ^ a b Clarke, Betty (3 August 2001). "Friday Review". The Guardian. p. 14.
  5. ^ Price, Simon (29 July 2001). "DISCS ETC: Music CDs". The Independent. p. 14.
  6. ^ Lepage, Mark (25 April 2002). "Power ballads from a pro". Montreal Gazette. p. 37.
  7. ^ Kane, Peter (August 2001). "Synthpop Doyens Return Winningly After 6 Years. Daft Who?". Q (179).
  8. ^ a b Stubbs, David (4 August 2001). "Pop albums". The Times. p. 13.
  9. ^ Reynolds, Simon (September 2001). "The Human League - Secrets". Uncut: 100.
  10. ^ Gold, Kerry (20 April 2002). "CD reviews". Vancouver Sun. p. 57.
  11. ^ a b Hughes, Josiah (13 January 2010). "Human League Sign to Wall of Sound for New Album". Exclaim!. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Papillon inks deal with Human League". Music Week: 8. 20 May 2000.
  13. ^ Lester, Paul (13 July 2001). "Human remains: Two decades after their synthpop assault on the charts, the Human League are back". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d "HUMAN LEAGUE - full Official Chart History - Official Charts Company".
  15. ^ a b "Key Releases - 26.03.11". Music Week: 28. 26 March 2011.
  16. ^ Green, Thomas (3 April 2011). "theartsdesk Q&A: Pop Musicians The Human League". The Arts Desk. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  17. ^ Iwasaki, Scott (1 August 2008). "Musicians still in League". Deseret News.
  18. ^ "New This Weekend; Pop Albums". Los Angeles Times. 1 November 2001. p. F.5.
  19. ^ Van Bokhorst, Michiel Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Human League / Secrets 2CD deluxe - superdeluxeedition".
  21. ^ Trendell, Andrew (6 March 2018). "This is the full list of Record Store Day 2018 releases". NME. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  22. ^ Clark, Steven (29 November 2001). "Electronica/Pop - Human League". The List (429): 52. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  23. ^ Hoffman, Wayne (3 November 2001). "Reviews & Previews". Billboard. 113 (44): 41. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  24. ^ Gill, Andy (26 July 2001). "Albums: The Human League". The Independent. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  25. ^ Masters, Tim (3 August 2001). "Secrets is top of the League". BBC. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  26. ^ "". 27 July 2001. Retrieved 23 June 2012.