In the ’80s, two and a half years was quite the gap between albums, but that’s how long we had to wait for the follow up to the huge-selling “Dare” from The Human League. That came out in the UK in October 1981 (released in the US mid-1982), and its full-length followup “Hysteria” wasn’t available until May 1984. That’s an eternity in music years, and it was also a time that bridged two different worlds for me.
Dare came into the summer of 1982, leading into my last year of college — a time of massive stress and disillusionment, a time when I was trying to put a fractured relationship back together, trying to figure out how I could clean up, get straight, move on with life.
May of 1984 may as well have been on the other side of the moon from that time. We were out of college, newly married, living a shiny new life as young urban whatevers. I had an entire month of sobriety under my belt, but that was a month that would keep on building. Even Syracuse seemed sunny.
And so, as much as “Dare” still brings to mind rainy summer days in our depressing apartment above a grocery store, “Hysteria” brings to mind the great little life we lived after that. It came out when we were still living in a sweet little two-story “townhouse” apartment in Presidential Plaza, but I associate it much more with our next apartment, in an old Victorian in the Hawley-Green neighborhood. We had four lovely years in that sweet two-story apartment in a very renovated huge old house, so while the outside was Victorian gingerbread the inside was pretty much entirely clean and modern. The bright colors of this album, the bright sound, all fits in with that lovely, light time of our lives.
Sometimes I look back with such fondness at what our lives were like then, how fun and innocent it all was, and knowing that we appreciated it even then. We had little money, an unreliable car, a life of farmer’s markets, symphonies and some clubbing, a lot of hours of work. We were discovering the world around us with ventures into the Adirondacks, the Thousand Islands, the Finger Lakes, and everything in-between. We were, to my old eyes, adorable.
And so that’s the life I associated “Hysteria” with. And this is the Human League album I’m most likely to play, although as I said last time, it’s been a while. But listening to these great songs again – the much better version of “I Love You Too Much,” the sweet ballad “Louise,” the synth funk of “Rock Me Again and Again….”, and one of the hottest closing tracks ever, “Don’t You Know I Want You” — I’m remembering that this is just a great album, on its own, without the beneficial haze of nostalgia, and now that I’ve listened again it’s going into the rotation for a while.