Picks and Pans Review: Truthdare, Doubledare

updated 08/18/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/18/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Bronski Beat

The best you can say about Bronski Beat these days is that the band lives up to its last name. Percussionist Larry Steinbachek knows how to Hit That Perfect Beat, as the new album's first single proclaims. But now that former lead singer Jimmy Somerville has moved on to lend his soulful, high-pitched voice to his own band, the Communards, Bronski Beat no longer creates the unique music that earned raves for its 1985 debut album The Age of Consent. The generally colorless voice of new lead singer John Jon seems particularly pale when compared with that of his predecessor, and it carries less emotion. Even when keyboardist Steve Bronski tries to enliven some tracks with jazz and Caribbean overtones, his synthesizers rarely sound anything but clownishly artificial. The Bronskis, who created some moving songs about gay culture on their first album, still sing about forbidden—presumably gay—love. Too bad their new lyrics are so vapid that they add about as much insight to the subject as Donna Summer's disco songs did for heterosexual love. "Let's do it, do it, once again," runs a typical line. Even the comparatively serious Dr. John, which mixes lyrics about AIDS with a dance beat, bemoans not so much the disease's death toll as its effect on the current pickup scene. In a way, those shallow priorities are appropriate for an album that might fit into any supermarket's line of generic products under the no-frills label "Dance." (MCA)

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