Picks and Pans Review: Vinyl Confessions

updated 08/02/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/02/1982 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Kansas

Kansas helped define a 70s genre loosely known as gothic rock: high-intensity rhythms, wild, excessive flamboyance, pop melodies and screeching vocals. This LP, the first in almost two years, hardly tampers with that formula, even with new lead singer John Elefante replacing Steve Walsh. There might be less self-indulgent dazzle from electric violinist Robby Steinhardt, but that used to be one of the band's novel strengths. Nearly all these cuts seem restrained, indistinct; the standouts, tellingly, recall the fine Dust in the Wind, hitting a sweeter, folksier groove (Borderline, Chasing Shadows). Kerry Livren, a born-again Christian, has written some searching, quasi-spiritual lyrics that keep their distance from the idiocies of much of today's commercial rock. But it's time, after eight albums in the same dated genre, for this band, loaded with instrumental and vocal firepower, to move on to new forms.

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