As of 2019, saying that singer/guitarist Peter Perrett has had a storied career would be a laughable understatement. After forming (and then collapsing) Glory in 1976, Perrett formed the fantastic Only Ones in 1978 where he established one of the greatest songbooks in the history of power pop. Perrett has ridden The Only Ones, off and on, ever since then (the band has broken up and reformed and no one has ever really complained about the on-again-off-again status of the project because the music has always been so good but, now with Humanworld (the singer’s second solo album) Peter Perrett presents a new bag of tricks that is as perfectly infectious as anything The Only Ones ever did, but also with a decidedly poppier slant which feels a bit more like a less repetitive permutation of Prozzak in that it features a series of vacuum-sealed hooks, but also feels more songwriterly in that each cut on the album boldly differentiates itself from the rest in Humanworld‘s running as well.
As soon as needle sinks into vinyl and “I Want Your Dreams” opens the A-side of Humanworld, listeners will have no choice other than to concede that Perrett has them hopelessly spellbound. From note one, the singer has everything aligned perfectly; the poppy guitar hooks which once made Elvis Costello a household name coupled with solid, no bullshit drumming and the sort of vocal melody that can win hearts and minds without even trying is laid before listeners confidently. There’s nothing remarkable about it, it just sounds perfect and effortless – it’s the sort of song that is just destined to get inextricably stuck in the minds of those who encounter it, and lyrics like, “I want your dreams, fulfillment in your dreams/ I want your memories, vivid and surreal/ I want your picture staring back at me/ I wanna savor every second of that delicious meal” bear more poetic imagery than the average pop song and are capable of inspiring more remarkable ideas in others as well. Simply said, “I Want Your Dreams” is a great opener for HumanWorld in that it will have listeners running both to meet it when it starts and attempt to exceed it when it ends.
After the dynamic beginning which is “I Want Your Dreams,” the A-side of HumanWorld seeks to further cement the album’s sound in the minds and hearts of listeners, and illustrate that it is a keystone in the style. Cuts like “Heavenly Day” and “Love Comes on Silent Feet” both continue the strong push first presented by the side’s opening cut while both the more hard luck and hard lovelorn anthem “Once Is Enough” and the more synthetic sunset of “The Power Is In You” sigh harder as they offer a counterpoint the higher energy levels of those aforementioned songs by feeling dour and trudging through their runtimes. While neither side of that spectrum shines brighter than the other (both play well and evenly), listeners may find themselves running a little more brightly toward the side’s closer, “Believe In Nothing.” There, Peter Perrett plays perfectly into the paradigm that Prozzak first produced as the song’s sadder lyric sheet strikes a great contrast against the brighter guitar part and poppy drum pattern. While some cynics may scoff and call the song syrupy at best and confused at worst, those who are willing to play along with “Believe In Nothing” will be rewarded with the realization that what’s happening here is ambrosia of a sort that it’s been so long since it was heard, they didn’t even suspect it might be coming here until it is blissfully upon them.
With “Believe In Nothing” closing the A-side of HumanWorld the way it does, it goes without saying that those listening will be hungry for a second helping. That A-side is just entirely too perfect; and so (it has to have been intentional) the B-sode of the album sets up another set of cuts which follow a very similar progression as its predecessor. While side-opener “War Plan Red” gets some sirens wailing to start and get some energy up right away (and feels more than a little like a lost Stooges classic, somehow), “48 Crash” falls right back into the Prozzak songwriting paradigm perfectly as Perrett’s mock-bored vocal clashes off of some delightfully horny (that is to say, “horn speaker associated”) guitar part and growling bass. Immediately thereafter “Walking In Berlin,” “Love’s Inferno” and “Master Of Destruction” all continue the trend set by its predecessor (although “Master Of Destruction” does wind the tempo down a little) before “Carousel” sews up the side with a more genuinely heartfelt emotive bent (lines like “There is something about you girl, that haunts me” can and will make listeners weak in the knees) which effortlessly wins hearts and will have them flipping the record over again to take another trip through. The beauty of this side is that it aligns flawlessly with its predecessor and can hold listeners sustained all the way through; there is no moment which qualifies as throwaway, each cut plays to the emotional heart of the album and keeps it going perfectly. And by the end, listeners will just be happy to hear it again – the priceless pop caprice exhibited here will produce endless food for the pop of heart. Now at the age of 67, it would be easy for those you haven’t experienced Humanworld to question how valid Perrett’s contribution to the form might be – but they’ll have that question answered on first listen. This album is just ageless.
(Domino Recording Company)