Picks and Pans Review: Baby, the Stars Shine Bright

updated 02/23/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/23/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Everything But the Girl

Though unrecognizable to most Americans, Tracey Thorn has one of the most sultry, sexy voices in pop music. Her talent easily qualifies her for the jazz circuit, but Thorn and her collaborator, guitarist Ben Watt, both 24, have become part of London's folk-rock scene under the name Everything But the Girl. This nonconforming duo mixes all kinds of music, intentionally choosing hokey or out-of-fashion styles and infusing them with new life. Their eponymous first (and best) U.S. album brought a sophisticated tone and some wonderful, original ballads to the British folk revival. This, their third U.S. release, has a different sound, with heavily orchestrated arrangements that fall between Muzak and Big Band. Once again, by being square Thorn and Watt come across as quirky innovators. But hipness isn't enough to make this LP a success. It's frustrating to hear Thorn's voice drowned out by a shmaltzy backup. The original songs by Thorn and Watt are another disappointment. Though they clearly know how to write catchy melodies, their tunes too often ramble or sound alike. Thorn and Watt must have intended the irony in the band's name, but they seem to need a reminder that the key element in Everything But the Girl is none other than the Girl. (Sire)

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