Picks and Pans Review: From the Greenhouse

updated 05/22/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/22/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Crack the Sky

Oh—such mixed emotions. This rock quartet, famed as innovators in the '70s and now aiming for a comeback after a four-year hiatus, has served up an album with good qualities that make it difficult to ignore and some not-so-good qualities that make it fairly annoying. On the good side, Crack the Sky's talented musicians, who originally met in Pittsburgh, know how to enhance pop songs with gutsy electric guitar solos. From the Greenhouse, a song cycle about the onset and aftermath of an apocalypse, includes lyrics that condemn current politics and offer both optimistic and disastrous visions of the future.

In any case, no one can call Crack the Sky a one-note band. These guys at various times sound as moody as Pink Floyd, as quirky as the late Beatles, as sincere as Seals and Crofts or as grandiose as any number of heavy-metal bands. But—and this is a big but—there's something missing: Crack the Sky may lack the smarts to write fresh music that could expand a listener's mind. Even with the many shifts in style, all the songs bear a similar conventionality, as bland as the worst material of Foreigner and Phil Collins combined. The instruments too have been so carefully mixed and balanced that the album lacks spontaneity and surely is without soul.

So it's a toss-up, sort of a "welcome back but couldn't you have dressed better" situation. (Grudge)

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