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Picks and Pans Review: Get Close

updated 12/01/1986 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/01/1986 01:00AM

The Pretenders

The title of this album is particularly ironic. Mostly as sour and bitter as a rotten lemon, the LP is alienating in an often infuriating way. Never mind the lost-and-soon-to-be-lost-love songs. What seems really nasty is lead singer-composer Chrissie Hynde's sinking to cheap, gutless attacks on politicians in Dance! and on black musicians in How Much Did You Get for Your Soul? It's not, of course, that there aren't plenty of valid complaints to be made in both areas, but that Hynde's targets are so vague her satirical slams amount to sweeping generalizations. Whom do these lines from Dance/refer to, for instance: "Take your people by the hand/ Tell 'em you'll get 'em to the promised land/ Take your woman in the heat of the night/ Make her think you're right"? And which black performers are being accused of selling their soul for the sake of "sleaze"? References to a soft drink brand suggest she's talking about Michael Jackson or Lionel Richie, yet how do either of those singers relate to the lines: "You finally made it/ You're gonna make it rich/ As long as some poor bastard in Africa/ Is lying in a ditch"? Musically the album is full of half-baked songs beginning with powerful riffs that gradually lose their grip as they're left undeveloped. Awash in all this is the wonderful Hymn to Her, an intelligent, gentle ode to mothers: "Let me inside you/ Into your room/ I've heard it's lined/ With the things you don't show." Otherwise, too typical is Tradition of Love, which ends with these lines in Hindi: "Shri gouranga/ Jaya gouranga/ Gour gour gouranga nam/ Gour gour gouranga nam. "They're left untranslated but they presumably mean: "I'm out of ideas/ Way out of ideas/ Out, out, out of ideas oooh/ Out, out, out of ideas oooh." (Sire)

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