1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 342

Touch, by Eurythmics
Suggested by Dreena Jane

Apparently, Eurythmics is a thing. I know, right?

I thought Eurythmics was just the band name, a cool made-up word that meant nothing outside the contextual definition of Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox. But no. There’s more to it.

Eurythmics is defined as harmonious bodily movement as a form of artistic impression. Reading that, I’m sure your first thought is like mine: it’s a poncey way of saying “dancing.” In a way, you’re correct, but it’s more complicated. Specifically, Eurythmics is a shorthand system of musical education in which bodily movements are used to represent rhythms, developed in 1905 by a Swiss bloke called Émile Jaques-Dalcroze. EJD was a professor of harmony at the Geneva Conservatory, which sounds like a tenured position at the My Little Pony Friendship University.

At its core, Eurythmics attempts to improve its students’ musical abilities through honing their rhythmic awareness using exercises in concentration and reaction. Time is connected to arm movements, and time duration (note values) by movements of the feet or body. So a quarter note, say, is represented by a single step forward. The exercise would see the teacher play one or two bars, which the student displays in their movements as the next bars are played. The student thus hears a new rhythm while displaying the one previously heard.

Every day is a school day. Basically, Eurythmics is Extreme Zumba.

But what of the band Eurythmics? Do they do enough to get me dancing?

They start off well, I’ll give them that. The first song is one of their stone cold classics, the perennially popular and lusciously downbeat Here Comes The Rain Again. This has pedigree for miles, and showcases the singular talents of both Stewart and Lennox perfectly. From the pairing of strident bass and twittering synth sounds to the powerful yet emotive signature vocals, this song is my standout for sure. Surprisingly, there’s only one other song I recognise here, the smooth and slightly menacing Who’s That Girl? I’m surprised this song fared better in the charts than Rain, placing at three to Rain’s eight. I’m sure Rain has fared far better through the passage of time.

The third single, Right By Your Side, has an exultant, almost calypso sound, allowing the tremendous Lennox to stretch her wings and soar. Other tracks, like the dizzying synthwave showcase of No Fear, No Hate, No Pain (No Broken Hearts) see her in a more playful and theatrical mood, aping Grace Jones at times, and the almost rock vocal chorus of Cool Blue is another gem. But this isn’t the Annie Lennox show, as Dave Stewart’s contribution is equally electric, in all senses of the word. Each song is a layered and intricate Eighties synth masterwork, a travelling and patterned mural that’s exciting from beginning to end.

There’s nothing I didn’t enjoy on this album, but I’d be neglectful to overlook the fact that the sound is, well, almost too Eighties at times. Just like Annie Lennox’s strident and angular image and Dave Stewart’s incredible permed barnet from publicity shots of the time, Touch itself is such a product of its time that it won’t quite work for everyone. Me? I’m more than happy to wallow in its excess, and I rate it as a high 7/10.

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