CREDO REVIEWS January 2011

Produced by Dean Honer and Jarrod Gosling of I MONSTER, the nucleus of Philip Oakey, Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall are ably supported by long standing sidemen Neil Sutton, Rob Barton and David Beevers. Night People and Electric Shock have already been showcased live with the latter sounding like what would have happened if Philip Oakey had actually recorded with GIORGIO MORODER in 1977 instead of 1984. And in the early days when it was Phil talkin', he always remarked how THE HUMAN LEAGUE never aspired to be KRAFTWERK but actually wanted to be DONNA SUMMER! With the haunting tones of 1995's These Are The Days lurking in the background, Electric Shock cleverly fuses past, present and future.


Never Let Me Go is a marvellous opener which sees an auto-tuned Susanne Sulley take lead vocals on a piece of dancey electro that sounds like CLIENT gone funky. The excellent Get Together has poptastic potential and launches into a classic League chorus with plenty of lovely synth action while Credo 's closer When Stars Start To Shine is a fun, off-beat number which rhythmically echoes THOMAS DOLBY's Europa And The Pirate Twins . Alongside Philip's deadpan chants of "keep on moving!", this ditty even sounds in places like their former sparring partners HEAVEN 17!


Credo  is a welcome return for THE HUMAN LEAGUE and will be enjoyed by all lovers of electronic pop who have waited a long time for the realisation of this lively opus. So all you Night People, "listen to the sound, there is movement all around!"


Mojo January 2011
Ian Harrison

Get around town for the Sheffield synth-sybarites' 10th album.It's been nine years since The Human League's previous LP, and in the interim they've shared queasy '80s nostalgia fest stages with Kim Wilde, Level 42 and A Flock Of Seagulls. Will their return to recording prove their relevance, three decades after 1981's epochal, synapse-sparkling Dare!? The hi-gloss but uneven Credo only partially convinces. Unhappily, autotuned opener Never Let Me Go could scare off the non-League faithful all by itself, while Single Minded has a none-more-stern Phil Oakey apparently advocating the Swinging Lifestyle - the effect is pure Alan Partridge. Elsewhere, however, daffy Downtown esque raving single Night People and dramatic death vignettes Privilege and Sky demonstrate the potency of the group's populist eccentricity, and it's hard to baulk when the rocking Get Together calls for unity. There remains the suspicion, though, that a call to Dare! producer Martin Rushent could be an idea next time.

2/5 March 2011
A new album from The Human League seems to have been so long in the offing that the band have drifted in and out of fashion several times while we awaited its release.


Not, of course, that there is ever really a bad time for a new album from The Human League, a band who did as much for British pop in the late Seventies and early Eighties as pretty much anyone. It’s just a shame to see an act once described by David Bowie as the future of pop music sound slightly out of date.

The problem, of course, lies not entirely with the League: everybody is doing electronic pop these days, from Rihanna to David Lynch and the competition has upped the ante considerably.


Compared to the best Girls Aloud records or Rihanna’s thrillingly electric Only Girls (In The World), to take just two examples, Credo doesn’t quite cut the mustard. The production (courtesy of I Monster) is good, if not great; the tunes are OK, rather than brilliant and the lyrics a touch forced.

The result is like a latter period Pop Shop Boys album: listening to Credo you feel it is great to have the band still around and sounding recognisably themselves but you probably won’t return to it too often  March 2011

Not surprisingly for a group who were famously described by David Bowie in 1979 as “the sound of the future”, The Human League have never been about resting on their laurels or relying on past glories to see them through. Which is why, in March 2011, they will be releasing their ninth studio album Credo, as brilliant a distillation of their ideas about pop and dancing, glamour and electronics, as anything they have ever done.

Produced by fellow Sheffield pop experimentalists I Monster, Credo’s style is a refinement of the approach first adopted by The Human League thirty years ago when they first led an experimental art-school insurgency of radical futuristic ideals into the top ten. Songs like ‘Don’t You Want Me’ or ‘Love Action’ that are both hummable shiny pop anthems for dispossessed teens and menacing electronic three minute future shocks, nothing less than radical pop subterfuge.

Credo’s eleven tracks still bear all of the classic ‘League synth pop hallmarks but are as modern as the sharpest 21st century chart pop. ‘Never Let Me Go’ is an ecstatic album opener, with the ‘League still straddling the high street and the art house effortlessly, like Girls Aloud joining Kraftwerk, the sound of a Top Shop branch staffed entirely by robots.

The first single on an album full of potential hits is ‘Night People’, another outrageously catchy burst of suburban disco pop with some of the urban nocturnal drama of ‘Sound Of The Crowd’, the girls’ voices as ever proving you don’t have to bellow and blare to emote. ‘Sky’ paints a picture every bit as evocative as your favourite acoustic troubadour. ‘Got To Do’ manages to be as weird and utterly irresistible with its reference to “startled simians” harking back to the “sericulture” of Being Boiled. Even the titles – ‘Single Minded’, ‘Electric Shock’ - are immediate and striking. As ever, there is brightness here, with a feeling of danger encroaching onto the dancefloor.

Above all, Credo manages to makes itself heard above the brashest state-of-the-art pop productions and brings some of that primitive essence to the milieu, as well as The Human League’s unique quality of apartness.

“We’re peculiar,” says Susan. “People think pop music is X Factor and we’re still hankering after a Roxy-Bowie-Donna Summer-Chic version of pop. We don’t fit in. There are three of us, two of whom have never written a song and are pretty average singers, plus we’ve got a lead singer who doesn’t consider himself a singer at all and can’t play any instruments very well. And yet we still think of ourselves as a pop group. If a market research group got hold of us, they’d change absolutely everything. We shouldn’t have gone on as long as we have – we should have ‘gone rock’ by now, like Depeche Mode, Simple Minds and U2 did. But we’re still a pop group.”

Not just a pop group – possibly the last great pop group. Believe.

Gay Times March 2011
Three music reviewers walk into a bar. "I've literally listened to this on repeat since I got it.""It is magnificent.""I'm obsessed with this album. I'm not joking I don't even want to go out tonight because I won't hear it."


The younger boyfriend of one pipes up. "They sound like Scissor Sisters."

Three heads snap round like something out of Hocus Pocus. No - Scissor Sisters sound something like The Human League…

The album in this particular bubbling pot of discussion is Credo, The Human League's tenth studio offering and their first in 10 years. Now signed to Wall of Sound Records, 2011 sees Ver League return with more of their trademark synth, electropop, with their usual highly questionable yet still entirely acceptable simplistic lyrics ("Gather up your skirts and trousers, put on your best frocks and blouses"). It's a collection of storming repetitive dance anthems - led by addictive singles Night People and Never Let Me Go - that you'll have learned the words to by a second listen.Credo is an incredible pop offering and proof that - should proof be needed - The Human League are not, and never have been, just another 80s band.One of 2011's essential albums. 5/5. March 2011
Russ Coffey

Listening to The Human League’s Credo is a bit like listening to one of
Ray Davies
’s more recent outings – you know they’ve both said all they have to say years ago, but there is still something very pleasing about just hearing them do their thing. I use the word "say", however, in the loosest sense, as part of Credo’s charm is its extraordinarily prosaic lyrics, strong on storylines yet purposely piling banality on top of cliché, where “stranger” rhymes with “danger” and we learn things like “Yhere is a place the night people go/ There is a place that only night people know”.


Musically things haven’t changed a great deal since the 1980s, with a mix of the harder Mk1 and poppier post-Heaven 17 sounds. There's a lot of fairly DIY synth-work that reminds you of when technology first liberated musical people who didn’t really play instruments. The analogue synthesisers have warmth and charm, the dance beats are insistent, and miraculously Phil Oakey’s baritone and the girls' (Sulley and Catherall’s) vocals haven’t worn a single inch in 30 years. Although it comes pretty close, Credo narrowly avoids being straight nostalgia by dint of its sheer commitment and honesty. Oakey is, after all, such a character that it’s no effort to believe that he’s really still involved in the clubs and bars of Sheffield and Leeds.


The album is best where the narrative is strongest, and the standout track is “Sky”, a story about an alien. Other highlights are love song “Never Let Me Go” and “Privilege”, one of the odder recent songs to be about financial greed. Throughout the album the songs tread a nice line between dance and pop. And yet, despite everything, it is just difficult to imagine exactly what kind of audience would really go for a Human League album in the second decade of the 21st century. Northern clubs, perhaps. Gay clubs, almost certainly. But despite its engaging manners and winning moments, this album is unfortunately likely to end up, like Secrets a decade ago, as a bit of a curio. March 2011
Adrian I

The Human League set the musical world alight 30 years ago with the seminal classic ‘Dare’ which provided ‘Don’t You Want Me’ as one of THE tracks of the 80s. From here there were hits aplenty with tracks like ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’, Mirror Man’ and ‘Human’ although the success of ‘Dare’ was never repeated.

Fast forward 30 years and three of the successful 1981 line-up remain, in the form of front man Phil Oakey along with female vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley. New album ‘Credo’ (their 10th studio album in various guises) is surprisingly good, capturing some of the sound of ‘Dare’, along with elements of early 90’s tracks like ‘Heart Like a Wheel’ as well as managing to sound relatively contemporary.

The opening track of the album ‘Never Let me Go’ really kick starts ‘Credo’ off to a blinder – with the trademark sound of Oakey vocally sparing with Jo and Susan over a choppy electronic beat. The quality follows quickly with first single ‘Night People’ and ‘Sky’ both delivering high quality pop that takes you back 30 years.

After this promising opener the quality varies somewhat. ‘Into the Night’ is a lower key track with a forgettable sound to it. ‘Egomaniac’ strays into Pet Shop Boys territory (no bad thing) to enable Oakey to go vocally low and serious. Single Minded follows the PSB sound to some extent and delivers a very catchy chorus that Messer’s Tennant and Lowe would be proud of. ‘Electric Shock’ goes a bit beeps and bleeps to deliver a fast paced number.

‘Get Together’ has a bit of League Unlimited thrown in at the start before a ‘Louise’ styled vocal cuts in. ‘Privilege’ is a sombre staid affair which is too plain to really get you excited. Faith is restored with ‘Breaking the Chains’ providing some of the pop quality found at the start of ‘Credo’.

It all closes down with the excellent ‘When The Stars Start to Shine’ – Human League at their best both vocally and musically; again mixing the best of the early 90’s era with a bit of Dare, along with some Heaven 17 circa Penthouse and Pavement (sorry that maybe contentious for THL fans!!).

Really good album on the whole and one that surprises considering their it’s 30 years since their initial success.
March 2011
Keith Bruce

Perhaps you heard the single Night People from the new Human League album and thought “Wey-hey! This going to be fun!”
After years of trading on their back catalogue – albeit in a way that seemed not quite as naff as some of their contemporaries –
Phil Oakey and the two girls he picked up in a Sheffield disco in nineteencanteen made some new music that slyly nodded to the past while embracing a knowing future. These are things that dreams are made of.


Sad to tell, Night People is by far the best offering on Phil, Joanne and Susan’s new disc, the ninth under the brand name. Lyrics like “Gather up your skirts and trousers/ Put on your best frocks and blouses” are sadly unmatched elsewhere and neither is the reference to Dare’s Sound of the Crowd echoed with such irresistible specificity by any of the other tracks. Younger Sheffield collaborators I Monster have ransacked the entire lobby press of aged synth sounds for the production of the disc, but missing is a Jo Callis-like tunesmith. March 2011
"But this is Phil talking..."
We’ve been listening to the new Human League album Credo, trying to think of what to write about it. Everyone loves The Human League, don’t they? You just wouldn’t want to say anything even slightly disparaging about them. It would be like punching a dolphin.


So we feel actual physical pain even writing that the new Human League album is just sort of ok. It sounds like them, mostly (there’s a bit of dodgy auto-tune effect on the first track we could do without). They have the luxury of having sounded in their heyday exactly like most bands try and sound now. So that element of the album is fine. It’s just that the songs aren’t quite good enough. Oh god, this is so upsetting. The songs are fine. They’re just. Well, they’re just not The Sound Of The Crowd, Love Action (I Beleive), Mirror Man, Louise, Open Your Heart, Human or Tell Me When. You get the idea with that.

Anyway, the point is The Human League are bloody great and the Human League have a new album out. March 2011
Tom Hocknell

Better than it has any right to be, but far from an essential addition to their catalogue.

OMD’s re-emergence and renewed interest in Sheffield compatriots Heaven 17, the timing seems right for a new album from The Human League. Lead singer Philip Oakey’s been relatively busy, dueting on both Pet Shop Boys’ This Used to Be the Future and with Little Boots in 2009. So, having only done short tours since 2001’s criminally overlooked Secrets, what does the band David Bowie
described as "the sound of the future" sound like today; in the future, essentially?


Apparently little has changed: a characteristically manifesto-like title, nocturnal themes (Into the Night, Sky, Night People) and Oakey exchanging call/response vocals with Susan Sulley and Joanne Catherall across the throbbing crunch of electronics. They swing between Being Boiled and Heart Like a Wheel within every song, while seldom matching those heights.


But even latter-day League albums produced a stand-out track, a trend continued here with Never Let Me Go: a pop song The Saturdays would be proud of. Oakey's voice bubbling beneath Sulley’s lead vocal will wrongfoot fans expecting a return to the League’s earlier sound. It’s part of a strong opening trio: as pioneers of the remix album (check out 1982’s Love and Dancing), the crisp, vaguely acid synth line of Night People is cries out for an instrumental. But things soon wobble. Oakey provoked the dreaded Marmite phrase before it was coined, but he’s never so thoroughly explored the fine line between droll and dour.


The future apparently annoys him; Breaking the Chains has a light touch, but Privilege is like listening to a cabbie supporting the losing team, while on Get Together, Oakey just sounds miserable. Nonetheless, elsewhere it’s hard not to see a wry smile behind the wisdom of "keep your cornflakes in the freezer".


Their avoidance of guitars, drums or strings is admirable, although Single Minded uses machines to write a song only to discover they’re not plugged in. It’s a track that will send detractors of electronica into spasms of told-you-so satisfaction.


At times Credo sounds like The Human League of today trying to be The Human League of the past, which makes for uncomfortable listening. That said, it’s probably still better than it has any right to be, given the time between the group’s hits and their missing out on chart positions nowadays. They remain more influential than influenced, but this album adds little to their reputation. Although 10 years old itself, Secrets is a far stronger starting point for anyone interested in the 21st century phase of this classic band’s career. March 2011
Jon Falcone

The Human League's return after a decade, Credo, is a lot of fun, marred only by occasionally bad lyrics. It feels like a defiance of time. Firstly because the band have actively played festivals wherever the bill has worked, so Electric Dreams and Don't You Want Me Baby get a least an annual airing for the more active festival goer.


Secondly, and more pertinently, as the whimsy of opener and lead single Never Let Me Go introduces itself with camp electro-disco there's the impact of Dare and the revolutionary remix album Love And Dancing, it still sounds completely fresh and absolutely The Human League. So either, A) The Human League pushed the boundaries and sat ahead of their time by three decades or B) - and unfortunately the more likely answer - commercial music production has gone nowhere since the '80s.


To be completely fair it should be noted that pop music has chosen to return to this sound for many very good reasons, for Credo successfully blends lullabies and a street toughness not heard since their former, industrial noise line-up. Once over the initial shock of Night People's "Gather up your skirts and trouser/Put on your best frocks and blouses" and "Time to go out form your houses/Must we creep round like the mouses?" couplets Night People is an enjoyably intense dance tune. Admittedly there is a certain charm to lyrics that have the eloquence of a primary school 'what I did in my summer holiday' presentation but anyway.


Into The Night stands out as a strong Motown meets Orange Juice meets, well, The Human League track. Starting with a groove even Love And Dancing mastermind Martin Rushent (similarly Dare's producer) would tolerate, this blends beats into a clunking love song that ascends and resolves itself with grace. As Fairlights, Omni-Qords and a world of seemingly analogue synthersizers seem to dance with abandon, they answer Oakey's question "Do you turn left, or do you turn right?/Back into bed, or into the night?" Credo is evidently written to soundtrack the mysteries of lost, long evenings.


As well shading the romance of nights out, it spotlights the pitfalls. Egomania marches to staggered, sharp vocal lines that escalate into a world where confidence gets swallowed ("Dazzling like a diamond in the Sun/Egomania") and clarity gets lost. It's a quandary well illustrated by strict tempo and rhythmic aggression, even with some Autechre-esque idly bits to melt the end of the song.


Credo is a welcone return for The Human League, and there's a sense of satisfaction in having them release new material that's song focused. A band has never documented the very cocktail of emotions stirred by love and dancing as well as The Human League have and, as Single Minded states, "Maybe I'm wrong but I'm bound to stay/Single minded, night and day/Give me a kiss and walk away." It surmises the public's relationship with this band, who've patiently waited for their audience to inevitably return. As the disco beats of Electric Shock kick, they plant another surprise. Beguiling.

4/5 March 2011
Simon Gage

IN unrelated Eighties comeback news, which may or may not be connected to the rise of Eighties-sounding bands such as Hurts, Sheffield’s finest The Human League are back with an all-new album that sounds remarkably close to what they were doing back in the day.

Maybe it’s because The Human League were always ahead of their time but these do actually sound pretty fresh, even if there isn’t anything anywhere near the calibre of classics such as Don’t You Want Me and Love Action.

Again, it’s not bad, especially if you had an asymmetrical hairstyle 25 years ago. March 2011

Almost the first sound on the Human League's first album in a decade is the voice of Susan Sulley, AutoTuned to robotic numbness. Hearing a band who once personified futurism being reduced to following last year's sonic fad isn't edifying. Luckily, it turns out to be an aberration, and, for the most part, Credo sounds like nobody but the Human League: electronics gurgle and whirr, and some fairly memorable melodies surge and flow. The production is sleeker than before, but that's progress – and it never overrides the League's professional-amateurs charm. But despite the plethora of lovely moments – such as Night People's call to arms: "Gather up your skirts and trousers, put on your best frocks and blouses/ Time to go out from your houses" – it feels like a collection of songs rather than an album. Something – call it a heart – is missing.

3/5 March 2011

This coming Monday it’s finally here! The Human League’s ninth studio album, and the first since 2001’s ‘Secrets’, is released. It’s been a long time coming for League fans, and it’s been worth the wait.

In 1981 The Human League released ‘Dare’, the single greatest SynthPop album ever recorded, that was three decades ago. Three Decades! And in their generation spanning career, Phil, Susan & Joanne have never strayed from the path, never pandered to fashion (were they making Brit Pop album in the mid 90’s? No!), they are an ElectroPop act. They evolve as electronic music evolves, they can experiment with electronic music and songwriting, they can collaborate with contemporary artists, but they remain ambassadors for ElectroPop. While Depeche Mode were trying to be a Blues Rock band and Gary Numan was saying a prayer before every bedtime that he would wake up being Trent Reznor. The Human League stand proud as The Human League, the worlds greatest SynthPop band.

So, to ‘Credo’. The ElectroPop landscape is vastly different from the last time The League released an album, the last five years have been an amazing time to be an ElectroPop fan. From the explosion of Indie-Electro, the return of intelligent Electronic Pop to our charts to the awesomeness that is Dreamwave and the Minimal Synth scene growing and growing, there is so many talented ElectroPop artists pushing the boundaries of the genre these days how does ‘Credo’ compare?

Very well actually. ‘Credo, is probably the most ‘The Human League’ sounding album The Human League have made since the mid-80’s. Phil Oakey is as his droll finest. As with the best League tracks there are strong narratives that run throughout many of the tracks and, from a purely songwriting style point of view, this album is really close to ‘Dare’. But it’s not just in Oakey’s vocals that ‘Credo’ harkens back to THL of old, the synth sounds used over the whole eleven tracks conjure imaginations of early 80’s TOTP. The middle section of the album, tracks like ‘Into The Night’, ‘Egomaniac’, ‘Single Minded’ and ‘Electric Shock particularly have classic analog lead lines very reminiscant of the singles of The League’s pop explosion

So, if the songwriting sounds like classic League and the sounds on the album are 1981 approved then does ‘Credo’ sound dated? Well, not really, and that’s down to the production, and the drums. Imagine The Human League of old with contemporary dance drums and modern, slick, production techniques and that’s pretty much ‘Credo’. To be honest I couldn’t ask for anything else from THL

Highlights of the album, for me, include the new single ‘Never Let Me Go’, the closest The Human League are going to get to DiscoPop, which I think should have been the lead single over ‘Night People’. If ‘Egomaniac’ isn’t the next single I will eat my Pork Pie hat, it’s classic League, call and response vocals between Phil and the girls, a dry wit and a silky smooth sing-along chorus. ‘Electric Shock’ is another definite winner, pure Synthetic Pop that kicks into Acid craziness in the chorus.

If loved The Human League, but hated it when they tried to be R&B, or Trance, ‘Credo’ is 100% for you! March 2011
Simon Price

The Human League exist out of time now. They make Human League music. A 10-year hiatus, therefore, matters nought. Three decades after Dare, Credo is their most five-letter- begins-with-C album since 1986's Crash.

Raw stats will get you nowhere. What matters is that the I Monster team have cooked up a production that matches our expectations of a League LP. And the single "Night People" is an exuberantly anthemic HL classic. March 2011
James Christopher Sheppard

Original new wave band, The Human League, have just released their ninth studio album, Credo, their first release in ten years. Best known for their huge 1981 hit ‘Don’t You Want Me’, The Human League have enjoyed continued moderate success for the past thirty years. Never straying from their new wave synthpop roots should keep fans of their past work happy, but will it offer them anything they haven’t heard before? In a pop landscape where electro synth 80s descendants,
Hurts and La Roux, are making waves, how do one of the first groups that first established synthpop music in 1979, stand up against their new contemporaries?

1. ‘Never Let Me Go’
Electro perfection. Building and building, this synth-infused track is literally how 2011 meeting 1981 should sound. Brought up to date with clean production, a catchy melody and a grimy bassline, it’s easy to see why this was chosen as the second single. It really deserves more success.

2. ‘Night People’
There’s something very mesmerizing and hypnotic about this track. The first single, released in last November, does well to establish the group as being back with a vengeance. Don’t be fooled into thinking this track is simple due to it’s repetitiveness, there is a lot going on here to wrap your mind around.

3. ‘Sky’
Frankmusik would be proud to have recorded this track- it resembles the sound he employed on his debut album
Complete Me, in the best possible way. Mellow, but bass heavy, ‘Sky’ has an awesome quirky-ness going on. Listen right through to the end- the track continues to offer more as it progresses.

4. ‘Into the Night’
Dream-like ‘Into the Night’ features a fantastic floating melody behind the chorus. It’s so good that it doesn’t really matter what the rest of the track is like. Seriously though, an all-round intriguing mid-tempo track that uses some lovely and unusual techniques, particularly the fade-out at the end.

5. ‘Egomaniac’
Immediately establishing itself as the most club-friendly track, ‘Egomaniac’ is possibly the most 80s track here so far. Sounding the most like it would fit onto
Dare out of all the tracks here, old fans will probably adore this. ‘Dancing like a diamond in the sun’ does jam its way into your head by the end.

6. ‘Single Minded’
Following ‘Egomaniac’ with a very similar beat, at first this seems a little dangerous, but by the chorus and second verse, this track stands far away from it’s predecessor, showing off more innovative ways of delivering the track to our ears.

7. ‘Electric Shock’
Forget ‘Egomaniac’, this is the club track. Something about it screams
Kylie Minogue’s ultra cool track ‘Boombox’. Danceable, up-tempo, innovative, cool- this is what the group need if they want to be played in the clubs.

8. ‘Get Together’
This is a great up-tempo number, which has a harder beat than we have heard so far. This will be a live highlight if the band tour to promote the album, I can imagine the crowd loving it.

9. ‘Privilege’
Standing out as a dark, twisted track, this is the most individual song on the album. Much angrier and with a political agenda, this yields back to the original Human League line-up that didn’t feature the girls.

10. ‘Breaking the Chains’
Throwing us back to the safety of the synth-pop, and in this case guitar tinged, world, is ‘Breaking the Chains’ which is light-hearted and a breath of fresh air after the heaviness of ‘Privilege’.

11. ‘When the Stars Start to Shine’
Joining ‘Electric Shock’ in the club playlist, is ‘When the Stars Start to Shine’. Featuring a hard and addictive beat that could be featured on a
Pendulum track, this is definitely a highlight from the album. Hard beats, a gentle melody and an 80s vocal arrangement that could be ‘The Land of Make-Believe’ by Bucks Fizz, this track somehow pulls all the best elements from each and hits you, hurling you to the dance-floor.

Credo is the sound of a band making music because they love making it. After thirty years, the Human League still possess the same creative energy and have produced an album that should appeal to both 80s fans and the Hurts generation, as well as lovers of well crafted dance-pop music. Not bad at all.