Picks and Pans Review: Sur La Mer

updated 09/26/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/26/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Moody Blues

Gee, an album title in French. How precious. But then what did you expect from the Moody Blues, who, in the late second-blooming of their recording careers, seem to have become disciples of Rod McKuen and Kahlil Gibran. Disciples armed with a sappy sound track. Sur La Mer is another heaping helping of the Moodies' addled, and by now painful, romanticism. The anemic, chipper melodies are counterpointed by Justin Hayward's long-suffering basset hound of a voice. He always sings like someone begging to be put out of his misery. What makes it worse is that that voice is always baying oh-so-sensitive lyrics.(e.g., "So that's the final story/ The truth in all its glory/ See how much I care/ You know you drive me crazy/ Thrill me and amaze me/ Drive me to despair"). Producer Tony Visconti makes an awful situation worse, with cloying, air-whipped arrangements full of keyboard arpeggios, swooning strings and oohing-aahing choruses—in other words, a bad ELO imitation. It's worse when the Moodies try to party. The odious Here Comes the Weekend sounds like what two fat, 50-year-old songwriters in the Brill Building would come up with, trying to appeal to the teen market. If Sur La Mer is adult contemporary, point the way to the Debbie Gibson and Tiffany bins. (PolyGram)

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