June 19, 1989 12:00 PM

Love and Rockets

Four releases past the breach, and Love and Rockets still plays the games of playful young pups. These musical chameleons have a whole grab bag of methods for building up expectations and then delivering a surprise.

Sticking primarily to their basic lead guitar, bass and drums, the British trio manages to shift between extreme opposites in style. The angry vocals of “No Big Deal” are accompanied by a lead guitar melody that hammers with insistent force. A blues such as “Bound for Hell” gets fuzzed-up vocals, cranked-up amps, and suddenly the shtik starts to sound genuinely frightening. On “The Teardrop Collector,” the vocals drop to whispered words of comfort, the drums to a heartbeat, the guitars to a caress. Love and Rockets finds unexpected ways to revitalize old forms too, sounding sometimes like Pink Floyd or the Beatles.

Perhaps because the musical twists work so well, it’s disappointing that the band didn’t churn out more songs. Technically the album includes 10 tracks, but three of them melt into a single acid-trip sonata that begins slo-mo and builds to a portrayal of a reckless motorcycle joyride. These songs come across as a tease as well as a tribute to psychedelia.

At least Love and Rockets, formed from the remains of the influential ’70s-early ’80s band Bauhaus, is true to iconoclastic form on this album. The band keeps you guessing and leaves you wanting more. (RCA)

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