Picks and Pans Review: Hard Machine

updated 04/04/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/04/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Stacey Q

The First Theorem of Madonnapology hypothesizes that the more a woman pop singer seems to imitate Madonna, the worse she sounds. This record is a proof. On parts of this album, particularly the track Good Girl, Stacey chirps, flounces and appears to be doing everything short of proposing to Sean Penn in an effort to emulate the dance-rock diva. This seems doubly puzzling. For one thing, Stacey had a breakthrough album last year, thanks to the hit single Two of Hearts. For another, when she is just being herself, Stacey sounds fine, showing an impressive range that includes not just thumpety-thumpety dance material (such as the engagingly restrained Don't Make a Fool of Yourself) but such relatively thoughtful tracks as the melancholy Another Chance or the reggae-flavored Favorite Things. Producer Jon St. James factors in a lot of synthesizer figures that are not just rhythmic devices, and he provides some depth with harmonies by Stacey and keyboardist Skip Hahn. The combination makes for a package that, Madonna cloning notwithstanding, is more listenable than just a bunch of hard-core dance tracks. And there's enough material for the club deejays in the crowd so they shouldn't be disappointed. (Atlantic)

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