Sorry for the lateness of the post. Between flying cross-country, reverse-jet lag, and nervously watching through three dead-even quarters until the Lakers finally put away the troublesome (and increasingly loathsome) Denver Nuggets, it was difficult putting down any serious thoughts. But maybe that’s because this record, an 80s new-wave nugget of its own, defies serious contemplation. Right now all I can think about is a 3-2 split in the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers needing just one more win to advance to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row. The contest had been as evenly matched as possible: both teams having won a game on the other’s home court, each looking dominant and inspired for stretches, perplexed and mistake-prone at others. Everything hinged on Game 5 at Staples, with the winner claiming a giant advantage.
Leaving L.A. Wednesday, it felt like everything was at stake. My indelible Lakers memory last season was a glimpse of Notre Dame cathedral at sunrise in the spitting dawn rain on my first trip to Paris, after my friend Cameron and I stayed up all night in a Left Bank tavern watching the Lakers squander a huge home court lead to the Boston Celtics. That game essentially killed any dreams of another NBA championship for Kobe and crew, and my consolation was that once-in-a-lifetime, unexpected vision—history and the immediate past colliding with sudden poetic splendor, an amuse bouche for a bitter soul. But I’d come to realize Paris is full of such coolly devastating, fleeting perspectives.
Wednesday night it seemed like no one would break the deadlock. Two great teams battling for all it was worth, seemingly ready to carry on until the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Finally, the Lakers rallied, their run from seven-down to a fourth quarter tie capped by a devastating dunk from point guard Shannon Brown over the much-adored, much-reviled smug media magnet known as the Birdman (I personally find him repulsive with his blond soul patch, his "guess which drug it was" drama, and his under-arm colored wing tats). That dunk got the crowd into it, which aided the Lakers' definitive fourth-quarter run for glory. Had we stayed in L.A., we’d have no doubt watched the triumph with our friends Sam and Monika. And afterwards, would’ve no doubt listened to an album like Thompson Twins' Into the Gap, to lubricate our inexpressible relief.
Some albums are made for certain moments. Not to be valued, judged or qualified, but simply to cue a ridiculous good time. I have no idea how many hundreds of records now fill my collection, but every time my good friends come over it seems we always find ourselves rocking out to albums like this: our party synched to the equivalent of a John Hughes soundtrack—Psychedelic Furs, Wang Chung, Genesis, Tears for Fears, Thompson Twins...
There’s been a fad for new wave the last few years. Most of it, I presume, nostalgia-driven, though I’ll be the first to book passage on the ocean of synth in the middle of tracks like “Doctor! Doctor!” Much of the interest relates to clothes and fashion. I’ve never been able to wear skinny jeans. And I haven’t had the balls to wear day-glo neon prints, skinny ties, tuxedo shirts and off the shoulder sweatshirts since my grandmother bought me my first parachute pants at age nine.
But I’ll party down to the Thompson Twins anytime. Somehow, the album itself comprises its own 80s movie—one minute you’re dancing on layered, geometric carpets in a giant tent swaying under a hood of stars in the middle of the desert; the next minute you’re buzzing to a view of neon city lights, grooving impromptu on a downtown rooftop. The next thing you know, it’s sunrise. Someone beautiful and new is attached to your arm as you shuffle grinning in the pre-dawn blue toward your shining red convertible, blissfully hangover-free.
That’s Into the Gap in a nutshell. A choose your own adventure musical fantasy, wrapped in a tapestry of Eastern intrigue—full of ridiculous mystery, androgynous voices calling you from dark corners, intoxicatingly heady keyboard journeys, all night parties, one-night stands and impossible exotic excursions. But when you arrive back at your destination, you’re none the worse for wear. All of the pleasure, none of the guilt. Now… on to Game 6!
THOMPSON TWINS INTO THE GAP, 1984, Arista Records