Infected by The The: Unraveling the 1986 Classic Album in 7 Key Moments
Infected by The The: Unraveling the 1986 Classic Album in 7 Key Moments

Infected by The The: Unraveling the 1986 Classic Album in 7 Key Moments

Explore the intriguing journey of the iconic album ‘Infected’ by The The, dissecting its creation, track listing, and the transformative influence it had on the music world.

The 1986 album ‘Infected’ by The The is not just another album from the annals of music history. It’s a philosophical statement, an emotionally charged journey, a deep dive into socio-political dynamics. It’s a genre-defying adventure that has withstood the test of time, resonating with audiences even decades after its release.

The Genesis of ‘Infected’

The story of ‘Infected’ begins with Matt Johnson, the creative force behind The The. Following the release of the debut album, ‘Soul Mining’, in 1983, Johnson felt a creative urge to explore uncharted territories. This desire sowed the seeds for ‘Infected’, an album rooted in post-punk and new wave but daring to push the boundaries of these genres.

The development of ‘Infected’ was a significant deviation from Johnson’s earlier approach to music. Rather than working alone in his studio, he decided to bring in additional musicians and producers. This collaborative effort gave birth to a sound that was far more eclectic and diverse, influenced by the diverse musical backgrounds of the contributors.

A Revolutionary Track Listing

One of the factors that set ‘Infected’ apart from other albums of the era was its innovative track listing. Instead of sticking to the traditional album structure, ‘Infected’ is divided into four distinct segments, each representing a different phase in the story that Johnson aimed to tell.

1. ‘Infected’

The title track sets the tone for the album. ‘Infected’ starts off with a menacing guitar riff, followed by Johnson’s biting lyrics addressing societal ills and personal demons. It’s a potent opening salvo, an introduction to the intense journey that the album offers.

2. ‘Out of the Blue (Into the Fire)’

The next track is a perfect transition from the angst and frustration of the opening track to a more introspective and emotive sonic landscape. ‘Out of the Blue (Into the Fire)’ is a deeply emotional song, exploring themes of love and loss.

3. ‘Heartland’

‘Heartland’, the third track, is a sociopolitical commentary disguised as a catchy tune. Johnson explores the deep-seated issues plaguing his homeland, Britain, through cutting lyrics and a driving melody. The track stands as a testament to his ability to address complex issues through accessible music.

4. ‘Angels of Deception’

This track is an existential exploration, a profound dive into the human condition. Johnson’s lyrics tackle themes of disillusionment and despair, backed by a haunting melody that amplifies the song’s emotional impact.

5. ‘Sweet Bird of Truth’

‘Sweet Bird of Truth’ is an evocative track that chronicles the internal conflict of a war pilot. The track’s cinematic narrative, combined with Johnson’s impassioned vocal delivery, makes it a standout in the album.

6. ‘Slow Train to Dawn’

This track is an introspective exploration of romantic love and its complexities. It provides a softer, more tender contrast to the heavier themes prevalent in the rest of the album.

7. ‘Twilight of a Champion’

The final track, ‘Twilight of a Champion’, is a poignant reflection on the fleeting nature of success and the loneliness it often brings. Johnson’s poignant lyrics, set against a melancholic backdrop, provide a fitting conclusion to the album.

Influential Reviews and Legacy

Upon its release, ‘Infected’ received critical acclaim, with many lauding Johnson’s willingness to take risks and push boundaries. Robert Christgau, one of the most respected music critics of the time, described ‘Infected’ as “the kind of vision that means more as sound than as message, especially when the sound is this scary.”

Another influential review came from Melody Maker, a prominent music publication in the UK. The reviewer noted, “Matt Johnson has created an LP of such overwhelming passion and courage that it threatens to render all but the most adventurous contemporary rock redundant.”

The influential music magazine, NME, recognized the album’s boldness and depth, writing, “It’s a record of our times, a statement of anger and angst, a journey into the heart of darkness.”

In retrospect, ‘Infected’ has come to be regarded as a landmark in the annals of British music. It established The The as a band unafraid to defy convention and tread its path. It showcased the vision of Matt Johnson, a musician unafraid to explore the depths of his psyche and the world around him.

Even today, ‘Infected’ continues to resonate with listeners around the world, its messages as relevant now as they were back in 1986. It’s a testament to the timeless appeal of The The’s music, and a shining example of an artist’s ability to reflect the world through their art.

The story of ‘Infected’ is not just the story of an album. It’s a story of daring to dream, of breaking boundaries, of resonating with audiences on a deeply emotional level. It’s a testament to the power of music to challenge, inspire, and evoke. The album ‘Infected’ by The The stands as a beacon of originality and authenticity, a musical landmark that continues to inspire artists and listeners alike.

The Ambitious Video Album Project

In a pioneering move for the mid-1980s, Matt Johnson took the album experience to a new level by creating a video for each track on ‘Infected’. Johnson worked with multiple directors to create a unique visual landscape that amplified the impact of the album.

‘Infected’ – The Video

The title track, ‘Infected’, set the tone for the ambitious video project. Johnson filmed parts of the video in the Peruvian rainforest, going to great lengths to achieve his artistic vision. The video captures the raw, edgy energy of the track and serves as a fitting introduction to the visual dimension of the album.

‘Out of the Blue (Into the Fire)’ and ‘Heartland’ – The Visual Journey Continues

Out of the Blue (Into the Fire)‘ and ‘Heartland’ saw Johnson continuing to explore diverse settings, from gritty urban landscapes to stark desert scenes. These videos further accentuated the thematic depth of the album, adding a new layer of interpretation to Johnson’s profound lyrics.

‘Sweet Bird of Truth’ – Cinematic Brilliance

Sweet Bird of Truth’ stood out with its war movie-inspired narrative, bringing the story of a war pilot’s internal conflict to life. The video’s cinematic quality significantly contributed to the song’s impact, demonstrating the power of audio-visual storytelling.

‘Twilight of a Champion’ – An Emotional Conclusion

The video for ‘Twilight of a Champion’, the final track of the album, captured the melancholic undertones of the song. It provided a fitting end to the visual journey of ‘Infected’, leaving viewers with a lasting impression of the album’s profound emotional depth.

The Impact of The The’s Video Album

The decision to create a video for each track was a bold move that set ‘Infected’ apart. It showcased Johnson’s creativity and willingness to push boundaries, marking a new milestone in music video production.

At a time when music videos were still a relatively new medium, The The’s video album project expanded the possibilities for visual storytelling in music. It offered a rich, immersive experience that went beyond merely listening to the album, allowing audiences to engage with the music on a deeper level.

Johnson’s innovative approach to video production continues to inspire artists today. ‘Infected’ serves as a timeless testament to The The’s boundary-pushing spirit, demonstrating the limitless potential of music when combined with compelling visuals.