Picks and Pans Review: Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom
Listening to the new songs of the Tom Tom Club is like eating a bowl of berries for dinner. They make you feel good, but the meal doesn't stick to your ribs. Part of the problem is that bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz, also known as the rhythm section of the Talking Heads, reveal so little about themselves on this domestic release of their third album by their own band. Despite a funky, island beat and some cute boy-crazy lyrics, the Tom Toms keep their emotions controlled and their listeners at a distance. They write danceable music, but without offering much of a peek at their inner selves, they can't force listeners into the groove the way Madonna does. Even when lead singer Weymouth makes her little voice sound seductive or sweet, she steers clear of such risky—and potentially engaging emotions—as anger or joy. Talking Heads leader David Byrne succeeded in creating an intriguing persona for himself with his staccato, slightly maniacal singing. The style doesn't fit Weymouth as well when she adopts it for "I Confess"; it's as if she's trying to squeeze herself into someone else's costume. Frantz and Weymouth, who are husband and wife, share a drop or two of personal chemistry. "Challenge of the Love Warriors" makes a fun duet out of rhythmic panting and sighs, accompanied only by percussion. They fare less well with their version of Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale," which is noteworthy primarily for its lack of feeling.
The Tom Tom Club doesn't need to change its bright musical style; the band members just need to step out from behind a blank wall. If they insist on hiding themselves, let them at least show off a new mask—one with a little allure to it. (Sire/Reprise)