Virgin / Realworld, 1992
"Us" is not such a great leap forward from the massively successful "So" of six years before. It stays comfortably within a slickly-produced adult-pop sound. Peter's introspective lyrics are delivered with confidence. "Come Talk to Me" could have been done by U2, with its tribal Celtic beat and Eno-style production . The funky Motown sound of the hit "Sledgehammer" is cloned here with the pelvic-thrusting single "Steam", and to a lesser extent "Digging in the Dirt", and the bouncy "Kiss That Frog". The sensual "Blood of Eden" recalls the tenderness of "Don't Give Up", with Sinead O'Connor on backing vocals and a delicate, floaty backing.
The drawback is that this album seems somewhat too slick. No doubt it was successful with the grown-up coffee-table pop market, in the manner of Sting, but I can't help wishing he'd lay off endlessly buffing everything up in the studio. Maybe have more stripped-down arrangements here and there. Just to give a bigger variety of moods.
December 16, 2003