Even though he had been suffering from hearing and sight impairments, Prefab Sprout man Paddy McAloon actually picked up the pace with the release of Crimson/Red, an album that follows Let's Change the World with Music by four years, halving the eight-year wait after 2001's The Gunman and Other Stories. It's also interesting that songs like "Mysterious" (an appreciation of Bob Dylan) and "The Songs of Danny Galway" (a lush love letter to the work of Jimmy Webb) cover the same ground as Let's Change the World's numerous odes to the power of pop music, but that album was arguably "tricky," because with the Sprout, overly smart and overly ambitious are the delicious pratfalls fans still savor. This one, like previous albums Steve McQueen (titled Two Wheels Good in the U.S.) and Jordan: The Comeback, is both grand and easily accessible, opening with a perfect example called "The Best Jewel Thief in the World," where busy and big work in tandem with the song's highly infectious hook. Singing it aloud might just make you more clever and warm, while the great "Adolescence" ("What's it like?/It's like a psychedelic motorbike/You smash it up ten times a day, then walk away") sorts out that kinetic and wide-eyed stage of life quite nicely. The music throughout is just as beautiful and bold as the lyrics, with "Devil Came a Calling" being built out of a loving tower of country music camp, while the much smaller "The Old Magician" works its magic with a little bit of keyboards and guitar. A tight ten-song track list, immaculate production, and an overall classic album flow are all icing on the cake, and when it comes to McAloon quotables, "Power, wealth, and a mansion on Fellatio Dr." jumps into the gifted man's Top Ten.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries