November 05, 1990 12:00 PM

Prefab Sprout

You don’t listen to Jordan: The Comeback. You absorb it. It filters in through your pores like the sun on a beautiful spring day.

This fourth U.S. album by the four Brits of Prefab Sprout is for all those people who whine that nobody in music does anything intelligent anymore.

On the band’s last album, 1988’s From Langley Park to Memphis, lead singer-songwriter-romanticist Paddy McAloon tabled his usual airy pop stylings in favor of the gimme-a-hit-single approach. With a title like Jordan: The Comeback, it’s appropriate that the new record is not only a return to the trademark Sprout blend of jazz, blues and Elvises Presley and Costello. It breaks new ground even for a ground-breaking band.

Whether the pace is fast (“Looking for Atlantis”), slow (“Wild Horses”) or dream time (“Paris Smith”), McAloon displays an uncanny knack for creating lush, intricate melodies that plug into your pleasure centers. No blaring horns. No awesome guitar solos. No disco backbeat. Just soft, good-natured rhythms that play like Steely Dan with a cheerful personality.

McAloon uses the same charming, innocent approach in his lyrics, of which there are many. He crams more words into an album than you find in some dictionaries. It doesn’t matter if he’s singing about God or girls, his two favorite subjects. Every phrase has an endearing, life-affirming aura to it.

Let’s put it this way. Say you lose your job today. Terrorists kidnap your cat. And your cable goes out, except for the 24-hour All-Chess Channel, just slip on Jordan: The Comeback, and you’ll be feeling better in no time. (Epic)

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