Picks and Pans Review: Cross That Line

updated 05/01/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/01/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Howard Jones

There is a time and place for everything. And Jones's was about four years ago. That's when his songs, such as "Things Can Only Get Better" and "No One Is to Blame," went gangbusters on the charts in every industrial nation in the world. HoJo, a Brit of Welsh heritage, hasn't changed much in the interim. But his brand of lofty synthesizer music and sensitive, albeit flaccid, lyrics already sound as old hat as one of Napoleon's chapeaus.

No one is bothering to keep up with Jones, who has been left in the dust by other synthesizer posses. Since his debut with "New Song" in 1984, he has been outflanked on the serious side by Depeche Mode and on the clever side by the Art of Noise. Jones appears most washed out and bloated on this album on the sappier songs "Last Supper" and "Guardians of the Breath." Even at his most pointed, as on "The Prisoner," he merely sounds like Joe Jackson with too much studio time on his hands—not a pretty concept. Old Howie sings on the title track, "Love seems to be like alcohol, evaporates before your eyes." The same might be said of hit-making ability. (Elektra)

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