Picks and Pans Review: Numbers with Wings

updated 10/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Bongos

The time has passed when you could get away with calling the Bongos the best little pop-rock band in Hoboken, N.J. As this five-song EP reveals, they have become not only the best band in Hudson County but—caution be damned—the whole Garden State, including such happening towns as Cape May, Camden and Ho-ho-kus. All right, those are strong words, but the Bongos have that essential ingredient of success—a sound distinctively their own. They're a bit folkie, a bit psychedelic, a bit New-Wave quirky, a bit sentimental and romantic. Delivering on the promise of last year's critically praised independent-label debut, Drums Along the Hudson, singer-songwriter Richard Barone has sharpened his gifts. Barbarella is a boyish, bouncy dance number about infatuation; Skydiving and Sweet Blue Cage are a linked pair depicting two sharply distinct shades of yearning, one direct and fevered, the other reflective and reposeful. Barone's voice, lofted with a touch of studio echo, soars hauntingly in the title cut. "I spy, I see through everything," he sings, "but I know I don't know anything/On cold nights, my soul is like anyone's/And on slow nights I forgive anyone." Aided by former Blondie producer Richard Gottehrer, the Bongos have made a wonderfully intoxicating record. It should be to everyone's advantage for them to turn out a full-scale LP.

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