Time has stood still for the Human League—and that's both an asset and a liability.
Time has stood still for the Human League—and that's both an asset and a liability. Remaining are the bubbling synthesizer lines and robotic vocals that made the British act a pop sensation 20 years ago with the No. 1 hit "Don't You Want Me." In fact, the trio has perfected the formula—but today this simple electronica sounds more retro than cutting edge. The nine new vocal tracks here are solid if not compelling; Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall, as always, offer warmth to offset Philip Oakey's cool delivery, and the production is characteristically upbeat and clean. Seven instrumental interludes offer some respite from uninspired lyrics. But there's little new ground broken here. And one key ingredient of Human League's recipe is lacking: irresistible hooks that drove such hits as "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" and "Human." Once, Human League delivered a daring glimpse into pop's future. Secrets is simply a familiar reminder of what we already know.—WH