'Outlandos d'Amour' is not only the first Police album, it's the best.
Susie Goldring 2007
Outlandos d'Amour is not only the first Police album, it's the best. Suicide, abandoned loves, desperation and loneliness…hardly subjects for a pop album, yet from Stewart Copeland's punky opening beats on ''Next to You'' through to the mellow, ''Masoko Tanga'', Outlandos D'amour leaves you upbeat and wanting more.
Drummer, Copeland, and Sting (Gordon Sumner) formed the Police with guitarist Henri Padovani in 1976 after meeting at a jazz club. But after just one single, Padovani was replaced with Andy Summers whose musical lineage involved playing with The Animals, the Kevin Ayers Band and Neil Sedaka (!).
Like many great works of art, the band's debut LP initially flopped along with the single ‘’Roxanne’’. Impoverished, they set off across America in 1978. On their return, buoyed by favourable reviews in the states they re-released the single which soon climbed to number 12, and also taking Outlandos d'Amour into the album charts. After that, there was no looking back for the threesome.
The Police have left their mark with a fusion of soft punk, a-political white-boy ska and shocks of bleached blond hair. But it's their easy refrains that make the tracks so damn catchy. Sting's melodramatic-yet-simple lyrics are perfect for short pop songs (and betray his early career as an English teacher).
'’Roxanne’’’s opening bars remain some of the most recognised in pop. Written by Sting after visiting a red-light district in Paris, it perfectly showcases his tormented schoolboy voice. And, in case you wondered, the laughter at the opening is said to be caused by one of the band accidentally sitting on the piano keyboard.
More songs about misery and loneliness follow: "Hole in My Life", "Can't Stand Losing You" and "Truth Hits Everybody", but the thing with Police songs, like the ‘100 million castaways looking for a home’ in the later ‘‘Message in a Bottle’’ – is that you never feel like you're alone. Even ‘Can't Stand Losing You’, with it’s threats of suicide has a certain irony and comic indulgence to it.
"Peanuts", and "Born in the 50s" move back into a punky and more chirpy anthemic refrain and by the time you get to "Be My Girl -- Sally", you're laughing out loud at the short Summers poem about a blow-up doll. And once at the end, you’ll want to start all over again.