After falling for Heaven 17's debut, I was eager to get into their second album. However, after listening to it the first time, my initial reaction was that it was a significant letdown. But then I listened to it again and wondered how on earth I could've missed that this album has so many fantastic tunes.
Whilst I don't think it's remotely as good as the debut, there's plenty of good reasons to listen to The Luxury Gap
over and over again. Maybe the source of initial disappointment is due to the opening “Crushed By the Wheels of Industry”, which doesn't contain nearly the same level of sparkly charisma as the song that opened their previous album. It's OK, but a bit stiff (albeit purposely so, as it mimics cold mechanical factory sounds). Other than that, the tune doesn't engage me a whole lot, and I also find it far too long.
After that though, there's stuff I can celebrate more. Namely “Who'll Stop the Rain”, a short punchy number with a great melody and infectious danceable groove. Equally as good is “Let Me Go”, which has a delightfully rubbery synth-bass groove and some foreboding background synths.
Another highlight is “Lady Ice and Mr. Hex”, which features some unkempt lounge-lizard piano right out of Aladdin Sane
, along with a good melody - my only complaint about that are the meandering parts in the middle, that don't strike me as terribly interesting. The final song “Best Kept Secret” is another terrific gem - entrancingly atmospheric and evocative - there's no dance-beat, but it rather seems like a synthesized version of something Frank Sinatra would've sounded great singing in the 60's.
All in all, I do like this album enough to give it a glowing recommendation - it just glows less than the debut.Rated:
by Reviewer: Don Ignacio
(blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews