[midlife 150] #108: yazoo “nobody’s diary”
December 19, 2010
Ah, melancholic synthpop how I love thee – stripped back yet full of nuance; machine-assisted and automated yet personal and expressive; artificial yet so damn real.
Vince Clarke is of course a founding father of this micro-genre, but though he found commercial success from the outset of Depeche Mode, arguably his best work came after he formed Yazoo (known as Yaz in the USA) with fellow Basildonian Alison Moyet. Her soulful, gospel-like voice (spookily reprised by Andy Bell in Clarke’s next major group, Erasure) was the perfect foil for the analogue sound and clean arrangements of Clarke’s studio work.
By the time of Yazoo’s second album, You And Me Both, Clarke and Moyet were sharing songwriting duties equally. Indeed, Nobody’s Diary – a song that would have been career-defining for the group had they not released Only You on first album Upstairs At Eric’s – was a Moyet composition.
An eloquent but doomed plea to save a relationship – to prevent it from being consigned to the pages of a to-be-discarded keepsake – Nobody’s Diary drips with desperation and then, beneath the lines “everything is gonna be fine/you’re gonna be mine/for a long time”, resignation.
The music is respectful of and complements Moyet’s vocal perfectly. Minor key chords and arpeggios evoke the lyrics’ angst while a resolute but wary rhythmic pulse provides the momentum required to see the conversation through.
The song doesn’t often appear on those ‘best songs of the 80s’ lists, which is a shame – it deserves a love resurrection to bring it to a new audience. Perhaps on next year’s X-Factor?
This review is part of close to 94‘s [midlife 150] series, which counts down favourite music 1970-2009.