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An album with a light and dark side. The first side is a set of firmly 80's-style pop songs, with their guitar trickery toned down for a more pop-radio sound. "Three of A Perfect Pair" is a good idea for a song title, and the song almost works, but not quite. It has an infectious tune, but it loses its edge after being played too much. (There is really no need for any song lyric to include the word "cyclothymic"!) The strongest of the pop songs is "Sleepless", with a paranoid racing rhythm fuelled by a bubbling slap-bass. Some of the guitar noises near the end remind me of camera clicks, bringing up a bizarre image of them desperately running away from paparazzi! "Model Man" is fairly strong, but on "Man with an Open Heart" they were losing inspiration.
The "dark side" takes us back into the world of avant-garde art rock that was their staple in the 70s. It's almost all instrumental, starting with the impressionistic "Nuages". "Industry" does what it says on the tin, with some impressive industrial grinds and squeaks, all the time underlaid with an insistent Bolero-like rhythm. The only vocals on this side are Belew's declamations on "Dig Me", backed by some spiky atonal guitar spitting. "No Warning" leads smoothly into the final track, resurrecting the old "Larks' Tongues" brand. A hard rocking but intricate instrumental, this could have come straight off "Red".
April 11, 2004