Picks and Pans Review: Mask of Smiles
There is very little to smile about on this album. A more fitting title would have been Lust for Life, after another of the LP's mundane cuts. In the movie of the same name, Kirk Douglas portrayed Vincent Van Gogh as Spartacus with a paintbrush. There is some similarly ill-advised role playing on this record. After the massive success of last year's single, Missing You, Waite has chosen to typecast himself as a sensitive Romeo of the spirits. The most blatant attempt at duplication of that hit is the current single, Every Step of the Way The rest of the album is one step forward and two steps sideways. Waite's writing has improved, especially on the ballads, but he has lost the fever pitch of some of his previous work, thanks to the defection of guitarist Gary Myrick. There is a disquieting sense that Waite has settled for giving the least demanding teenyboppers what they want: such banality as "I spend my time thinking about you constantly/It's true, you're the meaning of success to me." He never really stretches himself intellectually or aesthetically, even if he throws his voice into any number of unnecessary acrobatics. The only surprise is a cover of Marvin Gaye's Ain't That Peculiar. It's well arranged but adds nothing to what came before. The same could be said of the entire album. (EMI)
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