Savage Garden managed to slip underneath everyone's radar and go multi-platinum with their 1997 debut. The Australian duo wasn't hip enough to warrant coverage in the music press, even after they had a series of hit singles, largely because they traded in the least-respected rock genre: soft rock. Like any soft-rock group, they were a product of their times. In the early '80s, that meant adding some lite-country influences to the melodic pop base. In the late '90s, it meant adding mild dance-club beats, even on the ballads. Roxette sort of pioneered this in the late '80s, and Savage Garden really picked up the torch for this dance-inflected soft rock, whether they want to admit it or not. Unfortunately, that also means that they, like Roxette, are primarily a singles act, capable of crafting a handful of good tunes on each album, along with a bunch of pleasant filler. That was the case with the multiplatinum Savage Garden, as it is with this sequel, Affirmation. Since Savage Garden was such a success on adult-contemporary radio, it's not a surprise that Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones have decided to lean a little heavier on the ballads this time around, to the extent that even uptempo tracks like "Affirmation" and "Hold Me," or midtempo numbers like "The Lover After Me" feel like ballads. On the whole, this isn't a bad thing, since it gives the album some coherence. (Also, "Chained to You," the hardest dance song here, feels a little forced.) Plus, Savage Garden has a knack for delivering this professional, well-crafted melodic pop -- if some songs aren't as memorable as others, that's just the way the game of mainstream pop is played. There aren't any bad pieces on Affirmation (well, with the exception of the lyrically tortured "The Animal Song"), just some that aren't quite as hooky or memorable as "I Knew I Loved You" or the title track, or for those fans who like SG's piano ballads, "I Don't Know You Anymore." Like the debut, Affirmation is hardly earth-shattering, but it's well-done mainstream adult pop whose best moments are ideal for radio play. Those moments may be better heard on a greatest-hits collection someday, but this album is fine on its own terms; it is so well-constructed that the filler goes down easily.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine