Leave it to Lou Reed, who got his start in the '60s with the defiantly-artsy group Velvet Underground, to produce a fine example of an increasingly rare breed, the adult rock and roll record. "Ecstasy" here refers not to sex or designer drugs but, rather, to a long-term relationship. And Reed, a downtown New Yorker known for his arch sense of humor and famously wild lifestyle, isn't kidding. Surprisingly the album and its samba-tinged title track perfectly capture the complicated pains and pleasures of being one half of a stable couple.
Let us now praise the 58-year-old singer-songwriter for his loud guitars and tender moments. Singing in his flat but expressive baritone on the revved-up "Paranoia Key of E," Reed makes it clear that boy-girl angst is not the exclusive domain of teenagers—but that doesn't mean you can't dance to it. Then a quiet ballad called "Mad" daringly explores adultery from the perspective of the cheater. Not everything is that edgy. On "Turning Time Around," Reed quips, "She says, 'What do you call love?'/ Well, I call it Harry."