Whereas 1981′s Law and Order often evoked rock’s pre-Beatles past, this 1984 disc was distinctly of the moment: Featuring such quintessential ’80s toys as the LinnDrum and the Fairlight CMI, Lindsey Buckingham’s second solo album shares more in common with New Wave Brits than any earlier record by his band. His guitars evoke the choppy buzz of the Psychedelic Furs, while his keyboards echo Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark; “Bang the Drum” blatantly apes their “Souvenir,” and he samples himself throughout. That’s pretty radical for a L.A singer-songwriter of his vintage.
Although his musical style may sometimes be second hand, the material that Buckingham draws from lyrically is not: At the time of its release, he revealed that the first eight songs deal with the breakup of a relationship that began at the height of Mac’s popularity, and the final one, “D.W. Suite,” celebrates the Beach Boys’ late Dennis Wilson, the former lover of his bandmate Christine McVie. Both Buckingham’s ex and Wilson struggled with addiction; in “I Must Go,” he goes so far as to sing, “Hey little girl, leave the little drug alone.” Although the singer’s own substance abuse is well-documented elsewhere, he doesn’t cop to that here; for such personal subject matter, the singer remains fairly remote throughout. But the sharply laconic title track, which Of Montreal has deftly covered in concert, yields a blueprint for the dark yet snappy pop of Fleetwood Mac’s final commercial and artistic triumph, 1987′s Tango in the Night.