Friday, October 5, 2007

Baby's gonna cry

I have a lot of affection for Annie Lennox. "Here Comes the Rain Again" was the first 45 I ever bought with my own money (the first album: Wham!'s Make It Big, of course). It was moody, mysterious, and indescribably sexy in grade school. So I endured most of Eurythmics' stylistic shifts over the next few years, even when it was rather obvious that synth-dominated AC would be Lennox's metier, as augured by 1989's "Don't Ask Me Why," their last Top 40 hit (and, I think, the last new 45 I bought).

This is a nice way of saying that I don't hate Lennox. It pleased me when 1992's Diva scored a couple of small hits (the coquettish "Walking on Broken Glass" and the model-of-its-kind ballad "Why") and Lennox's visual instincts remained intact. Despite the lovely "No More I Love You's," Medusa was a perfectly useless covers album, containing a version of Strummer-Jones' "Train in Vain" which diligently tries to generate as little heat as possible, and a cover of Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down" which served as a creepy backdrop for Kevin Spacey's improbable seduction of a minor in American Beauty. Not even David Stewart's post-1985 hair matched this level of outrage.

Way too tasteful and agreeable, most of Songs of Mass Destruction doesn't even work as a treatment for future Lennox videos. Maybe that's her strategy: her fortysomething cult audience doesn't watch MTV or VH-1 either. But that's no reason to write airless songs which allude to nothing beyond their own gestures towards soul and meaningfulness.

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