Even though this only validates creeping fears that your phone is doing a lotta surreptitious listening, our favorite Zuckerbergian tap on the shoulder in our Facebook feed this year is an amazing sponsored post from veteran synth-pop group Book of Love that keeps popping up. To promote this Sunday's Orlando show at the Social, the band dug up and posted a pic of themselves in 1989 as glum and yet somehow fresh-faced almost-goths staring balefully at the camera with the Epcot globe looming behind them. It's an epic piece of site-specific marketing.
When Orlando Weekly presses multi-instrumentalist and BOL mainstay Ted Ottaviano about it, he thinks back with a laugh to a packed-out two-night stand at the infamous Visage nightclub "thousands of years ago," in May 1989: "We met this megafan who was like, 'I'm also Grumpy at Disney World.' Everybody worked there! So we went to Disney and Epcot with some fans the next day."
The New York electro-pop outfit are currently in final preparations to return to Orlando, almost 30 years later, as part of a round of touring to celebrate the band's three-plus decades of existence and the recent release of new CD anthology The Sire Years: 1985-1993. When asked if he ever saw the band having such a lengthy shelf life when he was first figuring his way around a synthesizer, Ottaviano's answer is surprising, but evident of a guitar-centric bias throughout popular music: "No. In the '80s we were coming on the heels of '60s/'70s classic rock, and there was so much music credibility to that stuff that we were always kind of told that our music was a fad and the style of electronic pop music we were making wouldn't last."
And yet, here they are touring on a heady greatest hits set. Ottaviano is adamant about not messing with the structures and hooks of the classic material: "The songs almost have a choreography to them. If anything, we love how it's gotten more fine-tuned over the years. A successful show is when the audience is on their toes and giving back as much as we're putting out. And we never phone it in." Binge-watching Book of Love live videos from the '80s, we can't help but agree. The classic, mostly-femme quartet – Ottaviano, Susan Ottaviano, Lauren Roselli and Jade Lee – bubbled over with pure joy and energy, making the electronics seem human and visceral in a way a lot of their contemporaries never quite managed. Constant un-self-conscious dancing and keeping the electronic parts as live as possible – we've never seen such verve in playing an electronic drum pad – make it impossible not to smile in admiration.
And the songs! The hits – "Boy," "I Touch Roses" and "Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls" – brim over with infectious hooks and biting lyrics; one can't help but imagine an alternate timeline where the band became as big as their 1986 tourmates Depeche Mode.
Book of Love promise a show rife with hits, but on their own theatrical terms, Ottaviano says: "It's kind of like we're doing our own version of Rocky Horror Picture Show; over the years we've tuned the set to have a certain arc to it and we're really happy with it. We've added a track from Candy Carol. It starts big and then we go into more reflective songs that we still love that maybe didn't get the attention that our singles did, and of course we end with the reason that everyone's there! Give them what they want!"