Sell out! 80's sound! Adult Contemporary! With Brothers in Arms
, almost all intentions at 'art' have gone out the window. Up to now, Mark Knopfler had fancied Dire Straits to be a true Art Rock band, but this album is as commercial as Dire Straits could possibly get.
It's like Knopfler took everything that made his band special, and then aimed to sell it to the public as efficiently as possible. The previously glossy instrumental passages and bright production have been turned into Adult Contemporary easy-listening background music.
But I'm not saying this is a bad album - there are plenty of good commercial releases - it's just this isn't as good as Dire Straits' past releases, it's a bit patchy.
I don't understand why Knopfler ran wild with his 'diversity' thang here. These songs are so unlike what he'd done before - they're not bad, but - heh. I don't care much for diversity on an album, in the sense of it having lots of 'styles' or 'genres' on one single disc. So I don't get excited about this album being 'diverse'.
I don't see why I should go wild over "Ride Across the River" for example. How can I describe it - it's got tribal drums, aboriginal flutes, reggae-like drums - it sounds like a tune from that video game Monkey Island II
, albeit with guitars and Knopfler's voice over it. It's nice, but not great. And "The Man's Too Strong" is apparently his take on Folk, with its Western-ish guitars and loud blasts of synthesizer. Still, at least it's a solid composition.
Elsewhere, Knopfler juggles between either slight alterations or huge deformations on what he'd been doing up till now. I'm not sure I should approve of the Adult Contemporary sound of "Your Latest Trick" or "Why Worry" - the former with a lazy trombone solo at the beginning, and a saxophone line between verses; and the former with a lengthy instrumental coda with cute electric pianos and guitar licks. Though the saxophone melody is good, "Your Latest Trick" is background music for restaurants and pubs, and whilst "Why Worry" is likewise quite pleasant, it's dangerously close to icky 'optimistic' please-your-mama music - there should be sunshine after rain
. Not essential by any means.
by Reviewer: Fernando Canto
(blogging at Sir Mustapha's Album Reviews [Defunct]