The Chameleons UK
Listening to a Chameleons UK record is like walking through a haunted house in the bright light of day; even the sun's rays aren't enough to dispel a premonition of doom. Script of the Bridge (1983) kicks off spiffily enough with "Up the Down Escalator" -- a song that hides themes of alienation beneath an overcoat of beaming keyboards and chiming guitars. A tension between sparkling facades and decaying interiors pervades the entire album, from the pendulous mood swings of "Monkeyland" to the misty intimacy of "Second Skin." The follow-up, What Does Anything Mean? Basically (1985) plumbs more deeply the existential quagmires gouged out by their debut. Strange Times (1986) would be the last album the Chameleons recorded before Mark Burgess left the band to form the Sun & the Moon. Flat out, it's one of the finest records of the 1980s, and also one the decade's most disturbing. Those sparkling facades had disappeared almost entirely behind a spreading nimbus of gloom. In an unexpected turn of events, the band reconvened in late 2000 for a reunion tour. Hopefully, a live album waits in the wings, as well.