Husker Du really hit their stride on this sprawling 1984 release. ZEN ARCADE established the band as one of the leading lights on the American indie scene. The 23 songs are loosely linked to a narrative structure about a young man who leaves home, only to discover the world to be as oppressive and full of hypocrisy as home life had been. The songs show a marked increase in variety.
Along with classic Mould scream-fests (The Biggest Lie, Chartered Trips), there are goosebump-inducing mini-anthems (Whatever, Newest Industry), songs of eerie beauty (Hart's bewitching ode to a dead friend, Pink Turns to Blue) and over-the-top feedback-drenched experiments like the 14-minute instrumental closer Reoccurring Dreams. With this album, the dichotomy between Mould and Hart became clearly defined. Mould's songs are built around his explosive growl, while Hart emerges as the poppier one on the acoustic Never Talking to You Again and Turn on the News, one of Husker's finest moments ever.