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The Associates: Sulk (1982)


“Sulk” is the second studio album by the Associates, a Scottish pop band formed in Dundee in 1979 by vocalist Billy Mackenzie (vocals) and multi-instrumentalist Alan Rankine (guitar, keyboards, others).

Background of the Production

After releasing an unauthorized cover of David Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging” as their debut single in 1979, the Associates became known for their stylish synth-pop, which was influenced by art rock, glam rock, disco, and old cabaret music, in the context of the British-centric pop music movements such as “New Romantic” and “New Pop” in the early 1980s.


“Sulk” was released in 1982 on Beggars Banquet Records in the UK, on WEA Records in other European countries, and on Sire Records in the US. It reached number 10 on the UK Albums Chart.

It is their most commercially successful album, and the last album by the original members.

It is an aesthetic synth-pop masterpiece featuring Mackenzie’s operatic vocals with his distinctive high tenor voice, glittering synths and keyboards, ethereal sounds by use of echo effects and reverbs, metallic drum sounds, and dance beats like disco.

Mackenzie’s vocal style shows the influence of David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Russell Mael of Sparks, and Scott Walker.

In this album, Australian drummer John Murphy played the drums, and ex-Cure member Michael Dempsey played the bass. Martha Ladly, of Canadian rock band Martha and the Muffins, joined as a backing vocalist and keyboardist.

The album includes two hit singles, “Party Fears Two” (number 9 on the UK charts) and “Club Country” (number 13 on the UK charts).

The US/Europe version of the album is different in track listing from the Original UK/Canada version.

The 2000 remastered version is based on the UK version, and it also includes seven bonus tracks, including the double A-sided single “18 Carat Love Affair” / “Love Hangover” (number 21 on the UK charts).

“Love Hangover” is a cover of the 1976 hit single by Diana Ross.

“Gloomy Sunday” is a cover of a popular song composed by Hungarian pianist and composer Rezső Seress and published in 1933.

British music magazine “Melody Maker” selected “Sulk” as the album of the year for 1982.

The 2-CD Deluxe Edition of the album was released by BMG in 2016.

The 40th anniversary deluxe edition (3CD+LP) of the album was released by BMG in 2022.

The Associates – Party Fears Two (With Lyrics) (1982) (HD) RIP Alan Rankine 1958 – 2023