Nik Kershaw’s second album builds on the considerable promise ('promise' is probably not quite accurate, since it's an impressive release in its own right) found in Human Racing
to outstanding effect.
The songs here are varied in style, keeping the attention throughout, and there is simply no real weakness, showing a more consistent approach than was found on its predecessor.
Once more the album's synth-led, and also richly tuneful, imaginative, and witty, with lyrics that vary from confusing to the very clever. "Don Quixote" is an instantly grabbing opener, while “Wild Horses” is charming, "You Might" shows a slightly harder-rocking style (complete with snarling guitar - well, snarling by eighties pop standards anyway), and “The Riddle” flies with its engaging tune and bizarre words.
Fans used to write to Kershaw suggesting what "The Riddle" was about (sample - I got plans for us, nights in the scullery and days instead of me. I only know what to discuss. Oh for anything but light, wise men fighting over you
), and it wasn't until years later that he admitted he hadn't had the heart to tell them that it didn't really mean anything.
“Wide Boy”, about the egotism of a movie/music star, is terrifically catchy pop, while other songs of particular of note include the pollution-themed "Roses" and, most of all, the finishing “Save the Whale”, which is about what its title suggests, and with its gentle melody and repetitive compelling beat, is a song of hypnotic beauty.
Kershaw released two more albums in the eighties, Radio Musicola
(1986) and The Works
(1989), both worthy but inferior, and though he has become something of an 'older and wiser singer/songwriter' type of performer since then, The Riddle
remains his true classic, and one of the great albums of the eighties.Rated:
by Reviewer: The Doctor