Picks and Pans Review: Ghost in the Machine

updated 11/16/1981 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/16/1981 01:00AM

The Police

The premier purveyors of reggae-rock offer more of a pop base to their music after three splendid, formative albums. And yet Sting's thundering, rampaging bass, a reggae remnant, still dominates this English trio's brilliantly inventive sound. Rather than resort to flashy instrumental breaks, they create rich, electric textures with Andy Summers' hard-metal guitar chords, Sting and guest artist Jean Roussel's synthesizers and Stewart Copeland's whipcrack drumming. The album lyrics, all but indecipherable, have vaguely apocalyptic titles like Demolition Man, Rehumanize Yourself and Invisible Sun. The hit single Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic starts off slow and then doubles in speed much like Message in a Bottle from 1979's Reggatta de Blanc. Sting's vocals now are moving away from his mock-Rastaman inflections toward a broader rock delivery. The other tunes exploit to just the right degree space-music synthesizers and hard-edged driving funk-rock. Everything this group does is magic.

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