A sad yet loving mash-up of various 80s staples: new wave, synthpop, John Hughes movies, and Giorgio Moroder (I hear a few loving references to “Take My Breath Away”), Human Leather’s debut is way more than just another 80s homage. It’s a goth lover’s dream, not too dissimilar to Death of Lovers, though Lazy Karaoke has a particularly emotional and personal tone, and this record takes the requisite ups and downs of life to heart. It’s a diverse and joyfully fun record, despite some less than sunny lyrics. Human Leather is a side project for two Salt Lake City musicians, Adam Klopp (Choir Boy) and Chaz Costello (Sculture Club). Both contribute vocals to the record and offer very different styles: Klopp’s dreamy falsetto is ethereal and majestic, while Costello’s indifferent Goth-y whispered tenor is more playful and dark. That dichotomy is played up beautifully, as the danceable “Ugly Sister” features a lovely hook of “Everything is fucking scary; everything is arbitrary” which couldn’t be more Goth if it tried.
Yet, that winking sensibility, that desire to dive into the deep end of homage, is what elevates Lazy Karaoke higher than most of the recent synthpop acts. It gives the album a real sense of a 2 AM karaoke session of Depeche Mode and Tears For Fears in a neon-filtered basement club. Too many retro-loving acts take themselves too seriously, and it seems like Human Leather take their craft and emotional lyrics to heart, but at the end of the day, they’re having a damn blast. Their hearts and heads are burdened, but their souls are light and free, so to speak. Lazy Karaoke is truly one of the most fun 80s pop records in recent memory, full of everything you loved about the decade and more.