Picks and Pans Review: Close

updated 10/17/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/17/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Kim Wilde

With the help of her family, pretty British pop singer Kim Wilde continues in her quest to combine the timeless styles of Abba and Madonna. For those of you who haven't been following Wilde's career closely, that turns out to be neither a very daunting mission nor, for listeners, a very rewarding one. Hey Mr. Heartache, for instance, is a compelling dance number for which Kim's brother Ricki and Tony Swain produced the best musical setting the singer has ever enjoyed. Unfortunately, Wilde compromises the track by trying to live up to the sensual, dense-packed arrangement with an overemotional delivery. Disaster city. On Heartache, Love in a Natural Way and Never Trust a Stranger, Kimmy proves you don't have to venture very far out on a limb to sound very affected. She's much more bearable singing clear and straight, without trying to bend the notes to some half-baked, sappy agenda. Her most appealing work comes on Four Letter Word, when she is at her most simple and demure. Like most of the songs on Close, Four Letter Word is clearly derivative; in this case it's a bad Burt Bacharach knockoff. With the possible exception of European Soul (oxymoronic title, moronic song), there's nothing on Wilde's new record that's offensive. There's nothing particularly pulse-quickening either. Gotta give her credit though. Wilde is somehow sustaining a successful singing career with no visible means of support. (MCA)

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