[19 November 2009]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, record companies found some success by signing moody synth-pop acts and dropping an album in the space between Depeche Mode releases. Thus, bands like Celebrate the Nun, Red Flag, and Cause & Effect were given brief moments in the sun. The best and longest-lasting of these, though, is the German band Camouflage, who had a big club/college radio hit with “The Great Commandment” in 1988, then swiftly retreated from the charts and the minds of all but a devoted cult following. This reissue of 1995’s Spice Crackers is a gift to that following. The band’s fifth album was not given a wide release initially and has been a rarity ever since. Derived in part from a failed opera project, Spice Crackers has been described as a more “experimental” work. Really, though, that just means the songs are longer, and there are more instrumentals. After some flirtation with guitars ‘n’ drums, Camouflage gets back to the synthesizers. The band always had a healthy art-rock side, and it still shows on mood pieces like “Kraft”, but Marcus Meyn still sounds like a poor man’s Simon LeBon, and Spice Crackers ultimately comes across as the electro-dance record everybody expected Depeche Mode to make instead of Songs of Faith and Devotion—only not as interesting.