Picks and Pans Review: Eden Alley

updated 06/27/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/27/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Timbuk 3

Barbara and Pat MacDonald, Timbuk 3's two and only members, have some clever notions, but they mostly seem like something out of Paul Simon's ideas-to-be-developed file. If ever there was a pop act that called to mind Simon's One Trick Pony, in fact, this is it. Timbuk 3 got away with a short attention span on the duo's 1986 hit, The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades; even though that tune's lyrics were relentlessly repetitive, the verbal hook was pretty hard to resist. On this album, their second, the MacDonalds give brief shrift to a number of promising premises. Dance Fever, for instance, is about a couple whose lives revolve around the shlock TV dance-contest show—"Out on the dance floor they came alive—dance fever/They skipped away with a 95—dance fever." Tarzan Was a Bluesman is a rap that has only 12 lines—two of them are "fought a few rounds with original sin/In the Paradise lounge of the Holiday Inn"—and never has time to get anywhere. Rev. Jack & His Roamin' Cadillac Church is just beginning to make a dent in the evangelist business when it's over. Despite the MacDonalds' ability to generate peppy, pop-funk grooves, the music itself can hardly carry the album. Pat's intentionally drab vocals would see to that even if the melodies were more engaging. The MacDonalds are in the word business, and they seem to be forgetting that it's not really all that hard to pick out likely targets for satire. Skewering those targets truly and deeply is where the art lies. (I.R.S.)

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