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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega

1985

Suzanne Vega
Album Summary

Suzanne Vega is the debut studio album by American singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, released on May 1, 1985, by A&M Records. It was well-received by music journalists in the U.S. and reached platinum status in the United Kingdom. Produced by Lenny Kaye and Steve Addabbo, the songs feature Vega's acoustic guitar in straightforward arrangements. A video was released for the album's song "Marlene on the Wall", which went into MTV and VH1's rotations. In 1989, Rolling Stone magazine listed Suzanne Vega at number 80 on its "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". It is also mentioned in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.99

Votes

7182
Genres
Folk
Singer Songwriter

Reviews

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Sun Feb 21 2021
2

i love luka and tom’s diner but this gives me strong....horse girl meets lilith fair vibes. i want to give it two stars cuz it makes me uncomfortable but i’m not the audience so i’m going 3. actually fuck it it’s my list i’m giving it 2

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Thu Sep 17 2020
5

Absolutely amazing! Beautiful, poetic lyrics and lovely guitars. Perfect fall album. Favorite tracks: Cracking, Small Blue Thing, The Queen and the Soldier, Knight Moves

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Wed Oct 13 2021
5

Nice voice, catchy songs that are distinct enough from each other (eg Marlene on the Wall vs. The Queen and the Soldier) that you don’t tire of the album. Very NYC (Greenwich Village) folk sound. Lyrics are at another level. Like a female Leonard Cohen who can sing. An outstanding debut album.

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Fri Nov 06 2020
3

Vega has an interesting style that's unique with vibrant lyrics/stories, but the production between the talk-sing style and instrumentation doesn't always allow each track to shine. And, at times, the instrumentation drowns out the intimacy of her lyrics. The back half of the album provides more air for her voice and lyrics to breath especially on 'Some Journey' and 'The Queen and the Soldier'. There's definitely a Simon and Garfunkel / Bob Dylan / Leonard Cohen influence here. Tracks of notes: Marlene on the Wall, Undertow, Some Journey, The Queen and the Soldier (the standout).

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Wed Oct 13 2021
3

She wrote some very intricate lyrics. Marlene on the Wall is a good example. I like how dynamic the musical shifts are in the lyrics in that song. The notes she sings are flying all around and it really works. Also, she's quite the story teller. The Queen and the Soldier is a good example. There are some neat things here instrumentally. The whacked out violin solo on Some Journey is quite good as is the jamming on Neighbour Girls although the guitars are mixed far in the background. Perhaps they were worried about what the neighbours would say.

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Thu May 27 2021
1

Childish lyrics, boring instrumentation, not a fan.

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Fri Jun 04 2021
5

5/5 - kinda like James Taylor; Marlene is a standout

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Thu Oct 27 2022
3

Acoustic fare. Very straightforward. I felt a few songs were a little too ... sophomoric (I'm looking at you, "The Queen & The Soldier). The songs that were with a band I actually liked more than just the plain acoustic guitar. It is a bit of a preface for her second album, which I think is a better choice for the 1001 albums. But they didn't ask me, did they?

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Fri Nov 12 2021
1

Very 80's sounding sort of confessional singer-songwriter. Her delivery is interesting, kind of half-sung, half spoken word. Honestly sounds very pretentious to me - first song being the worst example of this. I see a lot of comments saying this record is "bare" and "acoustic". I did not find that to be the case at all. The arrangements do sound kind of sparse but it mostly sounds like she's in a big empty room. Most of the songs have lots of little embellishments with other instruments (synths, electric guitars, etc) that are all very 80's sounding. To me this is more subtraction than addition. Might be more compelling if it were just her and an acoustic guitar. Maybe with less reverb or whatever makes it sound so sparse. Something to make it a bit more intimate sounding. But maybe that's just me.

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Tue Aug 03 2021
5

I listened to her music during my college days in the late 80s and enjoyed it. I didn't keep up with her after that, and haven't listened to her in a very long time. Re-hearing this album now, I'm admittedly a little surprised to find myself still quite drawn in. Her voice is ethereal and her songwriting is exquisite. Some beautiful work here.

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Sat Sep 11 2021
5

Love this… ethereal folk with lyrics on real life feminism. Can’t beat Vega!

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Fri Nov 26 2021
5

This grew on me a lot after the first impression being a bit proto rap spoken word waft.

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Sun Dec 19 2021
5

Really nice voice with good melodies

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Mon Jul 11 2022
5

Beautifully arranged album, Suzanne Vega has a gorgeous, wistful, voice which lends itself perfectly to her fantastic guitar playing. You can definitely hear the influence artists like Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen have on her work.

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Mon Aug 29 2022
5

Soothing 80s folk. It is actually baffling how strong a start this is for her, as she really just nails putting out a beautiful, concise album.

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Thu Sep 08 2022
5

I love this album so much. Suzanne’s voice is just stunning, and these melodies are just a huge part of my growing up. It’s genuinely Proustian - takes me back to teenage crushes and (longed for) romance. Just ace.

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Fri Dec 30 2022
5

Suzanne Vega and I once shared a midnight kiss in Bruges. She breath stank of cigarettes and cabbage and she bit my lip so hard that a fountain of blood squirted into her eyes. I pushed her down the hill and never saw her again. Stupid bitch.

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Wed Mar 01 2023
5

The Queen and her Solider <3

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Fri Mar 10 2023
5

Calm and sincere. Right up my alley.

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Wed Jul 19 2023
5

Muyyyy bueno, inicialmente no me había atrapado tanto pero lo escuché una segunda ocasión poniendo atención completa y nmms las letras, es increíble y el sonido si es muy indie folk de antaño, pero es fantástico, su voz es tan dulce que uno no pensaría que tocaria temas tan profundos en sus letras pero lo hace y eso lo vuelve uno de los mejores álbumes por mujeres cantautoras.

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Tue May 04 2021
4

Soft voice, with soft lines and accompanying tunes

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Wed Jul 21 2021
4

Nice barebones folk album, great mix and sound

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Sun Mar 14 2021
4

I really enjoyed this, was expecting something like Joni Mitchell, much closer to Cohen and like an acoustic-only Tigermilk, really short but satisfying "Marlene on the Wall" was the best track but a lot of cool storytelling here!

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Wed May 05 2021
4

The artistry of her poetry is magnificent. It transcends its pretensions, and it perfectly suited to the folk rock backing.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Well, never thought I'd enjoy such a folk-pop/rock album as I enjoyed this one. It's got repeat value.

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Fri Feb 05 2021
4

Tres belle voix, lignes de basses smooth et envoûtantes Coups de coeur Marlene on the Wall et Knight Moves

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Sun Jul 04 2021
4

Tres bon, auteure compositrice interprete. Me fait penser a joni mitchell parfois. Je reecoute. 4.5

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Wed May 12 2021
4

Guitarra y voz. Canciones melancólicas.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Yllättävän nykyaikaiselta kuulostavaa kamaa. En olisi arvannut levyn olevan vanhempi kuin minä itse! Olisi mennyt läpi ihan tuoreenakin teoksena.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Hyvää settiä. Tiesin vaan joskus englanninkirjassa olleen Tom's Dinerin, ja sen perusteella odotin vähän erilaista kamaa. Positiivinen yllätys!

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Hyvää nainen ja kitara meinikiä. Tätä kuuntelee mielellään! Kolme ja puoli pyöristettäköön tällä kertaa neloseksi.

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Mon Jun 14 2021
4

Weird but good. Twin peaks referent

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Thu Apr 15 2021
4

Like it - well constructed songs, good voice and band

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Thu Apr 29 2021
4

Surprisingly good album with great story telling

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Mon May 10 2021
4

Not bad - reminded me of Paul Simon, lyrically interesting, musically subtle - Nice.

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Tue May 18 2021
4

Super easy listening, solid album.

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Thu May 13 2021
4

Ah, así que esto es lo que escuchó Mitski para dedicarse a la música. Agradecido con el de arriba.

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Tue Jun 08 2021
4

Somehow it's very 80s, yet still mellow. The first tracks were almost uncomfortable to listen to for this reason. But it's so good! Faves: Marlene On The Wall, Small Blue Thing, Undertow

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Sun Aug 15 2021
4

Aangename luistermuziek, maar ook niet meer dan dat

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Tue Aug 17 2021
4

Good album with a bunch of hits!

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Wed Sep 08 2021
4

The music sounded great. 0RS

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Wed Sep 15 2021
4

First of all, this album does not sound or feel like it was made in 1985. Second of all, the mid-90s success of female singer/songwriters owe a TON to this woman. Shawn Colvin, Natalie Merchant, Indigo Girls, Aimee Mann, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and even Sinead O'Connor. I hear Suzanne Vega in all of them. I like the songs where the acoustic guitar takes the lead more than some of the other synthesizer sounds. I love cracking, small blue thing, and undertow in particular for the guitar parts and for how intimate the lyrics feel. It might not be in my list of favorite female singer/songwriter albums of all time but it’s certainly responsible for them so 4 stars seems appropriate.

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Wed Sep 15 2021
4

I am not at all familiar with Suzanne Vega, but I could instantly tell how much she paved the way for the singer-songwriters and alt folk of the 90s. I'm amazed that this came out in 1985. Vega won me over with her sometimes slightly off-kilter style paired with interesting guitar picking and arrangements. Lyrically interesting as well. Again, her influence on the entire Lilith generation is very clear. On her self-titled debut, "Cracking," "Small Blue Thing," and "Undertow" stand out. I wanted to know why I didn't know any Suzanne Vega, so I looked deeper and found that "Tom's Diner" was her most famous song. So I listened to that from her second album. I said "I know this song! But not this way??" The remixed version with DNA, which I discovered was the version I knew well, is so much better. The second song from her sophomore effort, "Luka," also sounded super familiar, but I don't know that song? It must really remind me of some similar song? @hell-yeah - No idea how this puts a person to sleep any more than "Five Leaves Left."

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Sun Oct 17 2021
4

Great album. Amazing guitar & voice register from Suzanne

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Thu Oct 28 2021
4

A solid, warm album of great songwriting detail. Now, I have only heard the album once, and with such an album, where the subtleties are the point, I believe one listen probably isn't sufficient for a full assessment and appreciation. As such, my current take is tentative and provisional. I may in future consider this a 5-starrer, but I may equally retain it at 4 stars.

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Wed Jan 26 2022
4

I think the only Vega I've ever heard before is 'Tom's Diner' so this was a great chance to broaden my horizons a bit. Musically straightforward but remains gripping through a combination of perfectly-pitched vocals and hynotic, poetic lyrics. 'The Queen and The Soldier' was the album highlight for me.

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Fri Feb 18 2022
4

I love how stripped down a lot of this is. I've never listened to Suzanne Vega before but I am interested in digging deeper. Favorites: Marlene on the Wall, The Queen and the Soldier, Neighborhood Girls

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Mon Mar 28 2022
4

I recall this album sounding revolutionary on its release, a very different take on the sound of a singer-songwriter. It got heavy airplay on my radio show, with standout tracks like Small Blue Thing, Undertow, Knight Moves, and the single Marlene on the Wall. This debut still stands atop her catalog, in my opinion. That said, I think the emotional distance of the storytelling dims some of its appeal over the years. Solid tracks, but no longer one which stands up to full listens.

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Fri Apr 01 2022
4

surprisingly modern-sounding indie folk pop pop with some synth. simplistic but I don't mind

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Wed Jun 01 2022
4

A friend of mine recommended this album back when it was released and at the time I hadn't listened to a lot of female artists I enjoyed, since most of the bands I followed were your typical white male-lead groups/singers. I have to admit, I half gave it a listen because Suzanne looked so cute on the album cover (yes, I do sometimes judge the record by the cover). It was low-key folk and her voice and the music caught my attention immediately. The songs were interesting and this was something that was missing from my musical palate up to this point. I can't say I'm a big Suzanne Vega fan, though her second album was commercially successful with her two best known songs (Tom's Diner and Luka), but I really didn't care for her music as much as her debut. Luka is a great song, though I prefer the Lemonheads cover version, but maybe that's what makes the first album so good, there are no hits, no pretension or expectation. I still spin this record occasionally and I'm glad my buddy, Ben recommended I buy it.

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Thu Jun 02 2022
4

Nice enough album. Marlene on the wall is the stand out track.

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Fri Jun 03 2022
4

Pretty cool swing and lyrical delivery. Nice acoustic stylings in a straight ahead, not presumptuous manner.

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Wed Jun 08 2022
4

I quite liked this. I don’t really know her music beyond the few tunes that made it to MTV, but this was more moody and enjoyably lo-fi, quieter than I anticipated. All in good ways. The opening track, “Marlene on the wall,” “undertow,” etc. I would listen to this again and just think about her thinking about Andy’s tweet about her hair. Amazing.

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Wed Jun 22 2022
4

Didn’t expect to like it this much, it bangs tho

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Fri Jun 24 2022
4

Fav songs: - Knight Moves - Small Blue Thing

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Sun Jun 26 2022
4

Loved the vocals here. Favorites: "Cracking", "Marlene On The Wall", "Some Journey"

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Fri Jul 01 2022
4

Better than I thought it would be, definitely about 10 years ahead of her time.

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Thu Jul 21 2022
4

Not the most exciting voice but back in the day I loved Suzanne Vega. Also I know I'm only a few weeks into about a three year exercise, but there haven't been many females featured yet so big up to the ladies. This album doesn't have her best known single "Luka" but it's still worth a listen. One of the artists that made up my 80s soundtrack, saw her live in Sydney.

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Fri Jul 22 2022
4

Enjoyable style and content mostly

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Fri Jul 29 2022
4

I remember Suzanne Vega for one song, so I was surprised to hear so many great tunes.

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Fri Sep 23 2022
4

älskar vega! mycket bra mums

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Wed Dec 14 2022
4

This work which is pre Tom's Diner and Luka is great considering it is 1985. In subsequent years Natalie Merchant, Tori Amos, Eddie Brickell, etc... would all dominate the airwaves but Vega was just as good.

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Wed Dec 14 2022
4

This was a nice change. Today was a great day for me and I enjoyed listening to this in a few parts throughout the day. I need to listen to more Suzanne Vega, she has a pretty rad voice.

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Fri Dec 16 2022
4

Pretty impressive songs for a convincing and tasteful album: this is absolutely a very good record.

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Wed Dec 21 2022
4

A seriously nice folk pop album with a subtle medieval vibe. Always liked her voice and delivery. The 80s production is also there, but it didn't destroy the vibe and make it age bad. It gives the album a different sound. Very successful, in the end.

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Sun Dec 25 2022
4

A lot of great tracks here, Vega is always interesting and her voice is like honey. Marlena on the Wall might be here stand out track and there’s plenty here to stand alongside.

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Wed Jan 25 2023
4

I think this album starts off with its worst track. But once Cracking is out of the way I really like this album. Yeah, it’s kind of art school/English major girl-with-a-guitar folksy, but that’s the appeal. Same reason I loved early The Story and Jonatha Brooke.

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Thu Feb 02 2023
4

I think I would have found this boring on a usual day but a day of a poor mental state made this a nice thing to sit and listen to. The vocals and instrumentation are wonderful, and the songwriting is amazing. I can hear the Leonard Cohen influences in this album, but I think Songs of Leonard Cohen got my attention more. Even in my apathy of today, I still did blank out a bit on some of the songs here. Still a very good album though. Favourite: Small Blue Thing

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Mon Feb 06 2023
4

Whimsical and soft. Album doesn't go too bold anywhere in the album and the mixing is super quiet. It's hard to latch on to the vocals.

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Thu Feb 23 2023
4

This is really good. I love the subtle yet effective instrumentation and how well produced it is. They did a great job at adding flavorful effects without going overboard. The guitar parts perfectly compliment the vocals.

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Thu Mar 16 2023
4

Back when this came out I was more into prog rock - but hoo boy this is my jam these days.

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Wed Apr 05 2023
4

I own this. Not my favorite Suzanne Vega album. But solid.

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Wed Apr 19 2023
4

As I listened to this, vacillating between a 3 and a 4, I kept wondering what it was about this that appealed to me more than Aimee Mann did. Not to dis Aimee Mann, but having just listened to that album, it was hard not to make that connection. And then I thought of Shawn Colvin and how much I love A Few Small Repairs. I think this album is right in between those. Suzanne Vega is a bit limited as a vocalist. She's got a style of her own, for sure, and she is remarkably self-assured and confident — at least she comes across as such, and it's appealing. But it comes down to the songs. There is definite songcraft here, though she's still figuring a few things out. But Vega is good, it's apparent (it took me a little while to realize I was confusing her with Liz Phair). So I think a 4 is a little high for this, but for all the reasons this stood out as quality stuff, I'm going with it.

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Wed Apr 19 2023
4

Great storyteller and such a strong first album. The Queen and the Soldier reduces me to tears every time! I never bought any Vega albums, so she was never on my playlist. Nevertheless, whenever I do hear her songs I am always carried along and impressed. .

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Wed May 24 2023
4

A very intriguing one. For the first time in the project, listened to this twice back to back as I really couldn't get a handle on it. From the outside it seems like the kind of pop-folk of the MTV era that I generally find pretty naff. But digging into it, there's a real richness to some of the writing here - strange and often quite beautiful poetry wrapped up in bubblegum hooks. I'm glad I listened twice, as I can see this getting better with each go through. Though maybe on another day I'd find it grating and twee, today I was strangely drawn in. Strong three and a half, but I'm gonna sat fuck it four and defend it later. Fave track: Marlene on the Wall

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Thu Jun 15 2023
4

A sweet and haunting 80s album

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Tue Jun 20 2023
4

Jangly folk rock with spacey synths and a wonderful mysterious voice. Enjoyed nearly song. A bit cheesy on the 80s synths, but great nevertheless. Favorites: Freeze Tag, Marlene on the Wall, Straight Lines, Some Journey, Knight Moves, Neighborhood Girls

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