Review of Don't Be Afraid in College Music Journal; 11/97

   You'll remember Information Society as the techno-pop quartet of the late '80's who skipped across your MTV with neo-punk hair-don'ts and sampled Star Trek geek chatter while singing refrains about "pure energy". Well, times have changed since the '80's dye job was "in" and Information Society has changed as well. First of all, IS is no longer a "band": it's a moniker for Kurt Harland, the group's original frontman and sonic overseer since day one. And Harland has finally laid his day-glo guitars and electro-pop melodies to rest (although he still sports the funny haircut). Don't Be Afraid, the first release since 1992's Peace & Love Inc., shows IS at the dawn of a new direction. Blurring the lines between pop, rock, techno, industrial and darkwave, IS lurks in the shadows with a more sinister musical edge. "Empty" the disc's opener, is marked by somber orchestration, a trudging backbeat, and a vocal/musical arrangement that sounds like the bastard child of Laibach and Depech Mode. The trend continues with the driving guitar riffs of "Closing In", the menacing, ambient dreamscape of "The Ridge", and the cover of Gary Numan's "Are 'Friends' Electric?" (the undisputed highlight). Able to maintain the feel of the old with the skin of the new, Don't Be Afraid puts Harland back on the map as a producer and songwriter to watch.

       - M. Tye Comer