Picks and Pans Review: Ooh Yeah!
Hall and Oates
Making great pop music is not like riding a bike. In this business, you can lose the hang of it. Daryl Hall and John Oates stepped away from their collaborative venture three years ago at the peak of their hit-making powers with Big Bam Boom. Now they are stumbling back into the spotlight with the pro forma pop of Ooh Yeah! The duo still possesses the tools that have made them one of the most successful recording acts of this decade: the ability to create soulful, romantic moods; a light, sunny feel for catchy melodic hooks; superb instincts for deft, uncluttered arrangements. Hall’s scintillating groove-thang voice is undiminished. Yet something is undeniably missing from Ooh Yeah!—something that renders this only a shallow simulacrum of their best records. Other than Everything Your Heart Desires and, to a much lesser extent, Missed Opportunity and Keep on Pushin’ Love, the songs here don’t reflect any of the limber energy and grace that albums like Voices and Private Eyes had in abundance. Maybe what’s lacking is the steam of conviction. Attribute it to contrived lyrics and a forced spirit of enthusiasm, but songs like Rockability and Rocket to God sound more like spoofs of Hall and Oates. It’s only a short step from irresistible to forgettable, and in this comeback record, something small and crucial is missing. (Arista)