Picks and Pans Review: This Side of Paradise
Ocasek has the apparitional look of Ichabod Crane and a vocal style that features a David Bowie-Bob Dylan kind of talk-singing. This is no pop idol. That puts a larger-than-usual burden on the lyrics and melodies of his songs. He can write clever lyrics such as this, about one Pink Flag Joe, who has "conversations with people/ For the sheer effect/ And he says he's a product/ Of gross neglect." He can write entrancing melodies and rhythmic lines, tying them together with synthesizer effects, as he does on Emotion in Motion. He can also, however, lapse into banalities: "And when she wakes up/ From her sleep/ I want to tell her/ It's for keeps." It's as if the remnants of a teenage rocker are still battling the mature songwriter (Ocasek is about 40), creating a strange tension that has made his solo albums attention-grabbing but hardly soul-satisfying. He's backed here by varying groups of musicians. Among them are Greg Hawkes, Elliot Easton and Ben Orr, Ocasek's old pals from the Cars. The group is in limbo, not having made an album in a couple of years, but has not been junked. While Ocasek could get by on his own, he might keep the group going to stay in touch with his commercial roots. (Geffen)
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