Well, this is different. Not too different mind. But the arrival of Dave Gregory has stripped away the old hyperactive carnival atmosphere, in favor of sharp twin-guitar pop (not to mention Moulding’s ever-excellent bass playing).
Some of the loopy energy of the preceding two albums has been sacrificed at the altar of maturity, as the previous rebellious party atmosphere gradually gives way to more overtly political material.
For all the blinding primary colors on the sleeve, this is the band’s greyest material yet, and it’s matched by a growth in the band’s already formidable songwriting skills. With “Millions”, Partridge has finally written a long, slow song that qualifies as an epic rather than a dirge.
An obsession with overbearing parents runs through Partridge and Moulding’s lyrics - always told from the adults’ point of view, from the opening son/daughter duo of “Nigel” and “Helicopter”, to the more general childhood torments of “Scissor Man” and “That Is the Way”.
Those songs join together with the album’s web of social and political claustrophobia: We're all safe in your concrete robe - when is A, B?
Partridge asks in the near-apocalyptic “Roads Girdle the Globe”. Ignorance may help you cope
he notes one song down, before singing the praises of a girl who can’t hear what’s going on in the outside world ... she’s not interested in that
But the desperate paranoia of “Complicated Game” comes rushing back nevertheless - part catharsis, part nervous breakdown, all AWESOME - with a huge chugging rhythm and more echo than you can shake a finger at. Amazingly, the song has actually become something of a standard, judging by the number of cover versions it's generated.
by Reviewer: S M Hellebore