Corey Hart quickly followed the success of his 1984 debut album, First Offense, and its blockbuster single, "Sunglasses at Night," with Boy in the Box in 1985. If First Offense used new wave synths as flair for Hart's rock-oriented mainstream pop, Boy in the Box is a thoroughly modern album, at least according to the standards of 1985. Most of the rhythms are synthesized, all the arrangements are built on keyboards, the guitars are processed so they're clean, brittle, and echoey, all adding up to an album that pretty much defines the sound of mainstream contemporary pop in 1985. Although none of the songs here have the sleek ominous undertow of "Sunglasses at Night," as an album Boy in the Box is more distinctive than First Offense, building on the vibe of "Sunglasses at Night" often to strong results. Hart spends a lot of time brooding on this album, cultivating the sullen loner vibe that "Sunglasses" captured so well; even the lively title track has a touch of emotional claustrophobia running beneath it. But it's isn't just introspection here -- Hart tackles Communism on "Komrade Kiev," and the album's hit, "Never Surrender," is a soaring power ballad of empowerment, giving this album a greater musical and emotional range than his debut. If Boy in the Box still sounds tied to its time, so be it -- most albums can't help but reflect the times that made them. But among mainstream new wave-influenced pop/rock albums from 1985, this is one of the more intriguing ones.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine