Picks and Pans Review: Symphony or Damn (exploring the Tension Inside the Sweetness)

updated 05/31/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/31/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Terence Trent D'Arby

AWOL since 1989's scattered, experimental Neither Fish nor Flesh, D'Arby (the "I am a genius" wunderkind of 1987) returns with an eclectic and defiantly great third album. From the Middle Eastern lounge-jazz filigree of "Delicate" to the garage-rock snarl of "She Kissed Me" (as tough a song as he's ever recorded), D'Arby shifts gears with a soul man's grace and a rocker's bravado. His sexy, edgy tenor is a voice that grabs you in all its guises.

Once again the talented auteur writes and arranges every song and plays a host of instruments, producing 65 minutes of music that could have been trimmed a bit without losing the intensity and self-absorption that's central to his persona. He's the pretty boy who knows just how pretty he is, yet you can't take your eyes off him. Not since Prince has a musician flaunted his sexual desires so blatantly and so effortlessly. And, like Prince, D'Arby transforms his need for love and sex into mythic experiences, casting himself as a one-man messiah of the wild thing. (Columbia)

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