Picks and Pans Review: Busted
The follow-up to Cheap Trick's wonderful Lap of Luxury is full of flash and trash. They trade on the same strengths they have since they broke out of Illinois 15 years ago: a knack for catchy little melodic phrases, Robin Zander's endearingly McCartneyesque vocals, and more deft harmonic and arrangement tricks than you can shake a microphone stand at.
Those cosmetic qualities make such songs as "Back 'n Blue" and "I Can't Understand It" presentable, but they don't make them good. And Richie Zito's too-brash, aggressively loud production only exacerbates the material's deficiencies.
After the great 1988 success of "The Flame," the group's first chart-topper, the album is inevitably overstocked with sincere but sappily substandard ballads: "Wherever Would I Be," "Can't Slop Fallin' Into Love," and (the best of the lot) "When You Need Someone." The only keepers here, though, are the midtempo "Walk Away," with Chrissie Hynde providing backup vocals, and the crunchy rocker "You Drive, I'll Steer."
Still, while no handsprings are to be turned, it's almost impossible not to like this peppy, genial group, even when, as on this album, they're trying to pull the wool over your ears. (Epic)