[continued from last post]
The album opened with a Big Bang. “The Theory Of Everything Part 1” was a cinematic cauldron roiling with anxious dread and by far the most portentous track ever to grace an album with Claudia Brücken singing since the heady days of “Dr. Mabuse.” The effect here really set the listener up for the earthshaking sequel to “A Secret Wish” that we had given up all hope of hearing and the effect of it evaporating into “The Theory Of Everything Part 2” without so much as a dry cough from Ms. Brücken was disappointing. On the other hand, it did show that Paul Humphreys [along with co-writer Jon Russell] could approach that dark miasma of Propaganda quite effectively, if they put their minds to it. As it turned out, their minds were elsewhere.
“The Theory Of Everything Part 2” was a complete volte-face from the 90 second intro we had just heard. It was a delicate pop tune with the luscious Teutonic crooning of Ms. Brücken set over a clockwork modern technopop music bed. Of course, “modern” in this sense meant that Humphreys had fully transitioned to the current fashion of making electronic music; on a computer. Rhythms were loop based and while care was taken to add interest, there’s only so much that can be done to stimulate my ears when making music via software systems. The irony was that is decidedly sounded more “electronic” than the last three albums we had heard from Mr. Humphreys.
“Sequential” was more interesting. In another era, this would have been one of the singles from this album, back when the world was young. James Watson’s guitar integrated beautifully with the Eurosynth creating a hint of John Barry soundtrack vibe here. The methodical rhythm pattern came to the fore on the middle eight when all of the melody aspects dropped out. The dreamlike backing vocals were another big plus. If Billy MacKenzie were still around imagine what he could have done with a duet here!
Following this, one of the album’s big payloads was dropped with “Home [Tonight].” The heartbreaking cinematic intro sets the listener up for the chilly look at a breakup that was heavy on the heroin imagery as it honestly explored its fatalism. The accompaniment was light and minimal there so as not to overpower the emotional weight of the lyrics. Following this the mood lightened with a remix of “Signals,” a track from the “Item” EP given a new mix by future OMD mainman Chuck “Chicky” Reeves. Here, the notion of removing all of the Kraftwerk DNA from the enjoyable [albeit derivative] original mix was eschewed for a lighter technopop touch. I can’t say I enjoyed the chorus FX on Ms. Brücken’s vocals, but in all other aspects, it fit the album better in its new guise.
Then the album delivered another wallop with the first cover version included here; a stunning take of Pink Floyd’s cynical industry song “Have A Cigar.” The music bed substantially reflected co-producer Bob Kraushaar’s ZTT roots, with a song that could effortlessly be mashed up with Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Welcome To The Pleasuredome!” In fact, once the song hits the three minute mark, there was no further singing and I’m here to tell you that you can easily sing the lyrics to that FGTH single along with the music here. Sure, it’s a throwback, but the attack reeks of vitality and it almost upstages the rest of the production here, for that matter. The album could have benefited for a little more of such boldness doled out throughout it.
Next: …A Cover No One Expected