Picks and Pans Review: High Hat

updated 03/27/1989 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/27/1989 01:00AM

Boy George

With his second comeback album, the Boy turns his back on pop in favor of an undiluted urban-black style. When he was riding high as the androgynous leader of Culture Club, there was a soulful flavor to his vocals and melodies, but never anything this pronounced. This experiment, we're sorry to report, backfires in Boy George's china-doll face. "Don't Take My Mind on a Trip" is just a bad copy of the Dazz Band. "Whether They Like It or Not" crosses go-go music with a little calypso, and the result sounds like leftover Lionel Richie. The Boy fares best on the hip-hop driven "You Found Another Guy" and the reggae-tinged "Kipsy," mostly because these songs carry the best beats in the batch. Not everything is funky on High Hat. Besides the tepid filler that's thrown in to pad Side 2, there's also the gospel-inflected "Whisper" and "I'm Not Sleeping Anymore." Unfortunately, both settings—urban black and gospel—only serve to emphasize the cloying artificiality that marks Boy George's vocal delivery. The singer's reincarnation here smacks of desperation. With his career shipwrecked by his drug use, he's like someone grabbing at any flotsam that bobs up, hoping it may buoy him. Hold on, Boy. High Hat isn't a complete atrocity. It will do until something else drifts by. (Virgin)

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