Picks and Pans Review: Bedrock Vice

updated 11/23/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/23/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

The Thrashing Doves

Anyone who can afford to pay the price of an album for the sake of collecting a couple of terrific singles should immediately buy these records. Though Beautiful Imbalance by the Thrashing Doves and Painted Moon by the Silencers are not readily available on 45s, they still turn the much-abused pop single back into an art form, and here's why: (1) these songs have enjoyable, danceable melodies with catchy choruses; (2) the lyrics sound very simple and breezy; (3) the lyrics are, however, actually very complex, so they never get boring after repeated listenings. Painted Moon is an elegantly argued indictment of the 1982 Falklands War in particular and British imperialism in general. Beautiful Imbalance presents the skewed philosophy of an aspiring suitor who in arguing his case claims that love denies the laws of physics: "I know the world is flat/ Don't try to make it round/ I know the world stands still/ Don't try to make it spin around/ Because your beautiful imbalance will let you down." Though both these songs are far superior to anything else on the albums that include them, the rest of the music is still respectable. The Silencers, who are Scottish, come from the Simple Minds/ U2 school of rock. Some of the band's songs are embellished with atmospheric keyboard effects; others are dominated by a jangly guitar that sounds unique to these guys and could become their trademark if they ever hit it big. The Thrashing Doves, based in London, come from the Clash/Johnny Lydon school, with rough vocals and a more orchestrated sound than the Silencers. Both bands fill their lyrics with condemnation of conservative politics. The Thrashing Doves' Tinderbox Man, for example, attempts to lampoon President Reagan: "He's made some pretty good movies with some pretty nasty scenes/ We're still to witness the worst." On their title track, the Silencers try to provide some relief from the serious tone. Over a lightly strummed instrumental, a young woman reads a letter that a band member received from an American friend: "I'm still at school here in Minneapolis studying theater/ Oh what fun it is." Then there is the problem that some of the less distinctive songs on these albums fade into each other and sound alike. What the heck. Beautiful Imbalance and Painted Moon belong in the collection of anyone who wants to have all the greatest singles of 1987. (Doves: A&M; Silencers: RCA)

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