Picks and Pans Review: Brighter Than a Thousand Suns

updated 06/22/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/22/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Killing Joke

As innovative rock bands that formed in the '70s started giving in to the conservative mood of the '80s, some of them cleaned up their acts and got better; others just got boring. Killing Joke falls into the latter category. With its fifth album, the British quartet has replaced its once-tumultuous sound with a slicked-down, overproduced style that rose to fame with MTV. Lead singer Jaz Coleman's clonish voice and keyboards make all of the tracks blend into one. It doesn't help that his heavy British accent makes English sound a lot like Urdu, so few listeners will pick up the one laudable aspect of the album: its lyrics. To make matters worse, there are no printed lyrics on the record sleeve. As implied by the band's name, the primary subject of Killing Joke's philosophical songs is the ironic link between life and death. In the most impressive of the tracks, Rubicon, Coleman muses on man's pride in the face of certain doom: "Let rage and hate of races run from Adam down/ The magic of our science shines brighter than a thousand suns/ Liberty in new dimensions ruthless and spectacular." That's a lot more high-minded than the stuff that usually comes over the radio. Too bad when you hear it, it sounds as if Coleman had taken a mouthful of oatmeal before stepping up to the mike. (Virgin)

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