Picks and Pans Review: Calm Animals
New label, new producer. This is a new kind of quick Fixx. It's understandable. Desperate times and all that stuff. You see, this British rock band came to American attention at about the same time as those Australian imports INXS. After initial success, they've watched the trajectory of their recording career plummet at the same rate that INXS' has soared. So now they've shaken things up, but without any real improvement. New producer Bill Wittman, who has worked with the Hooters and Pat Benatar, has a much warmer, more traditional touch than Rupert Hine, the group's longtime board-man. Most markedly in Cy Curnin's voice and Jamie West-Oram's guitar, Hine gave the Fixx an echoey, somewhat refracted and instantly recognizable sound. They seemed to be playing at the bottom of a long steel well. For much of this album, however, they're indistinguishable from any number of overwrought anthem bands, such as Alarm or Call or Simple Minds or U2. On some songs—World Weary, for one—they emulate anemic art-rock bands such as the Alan Parsons Project. There are a few pretty compositions—Precious Stone or Flow—but not nearly enough to float this barge. (RCA)
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