Some might say they didn’t have far to fall, but Simply Red may be suffering from midlife pop career crisis. They had two fine records with 1989’s A New Flame and their 1986 debut. But the luster has worn off here, with anemic singing and blah musical performances that make them sound as if they were bloated from gorging on an eight-course gourmet dinner en route to the studio.
The peppy lite funk of the opener, “Something Got Me Started,” seems like a healthy sign of things to come. But soon lead singer Mick Hucknall is singing the banal “Thrill Me”: “Thrill me, you’ve got a love so strong/ Thrill me, you really turn me on.”
Hucknall’s singing is still the hook in Simply Red’s music, sliding gently in a pillow-soft upper register—on “For Your Babies,” for instance. But his songwriting doesn’t match his vocal prowess. Unless he recaptures some of that sassy blue-eyed soul of a couple of years ago, Hucknall and the rest of Simply Red may be destined for whatever-happened-to? status. (East-West)