Oingo Boingo

Dead Man's Party

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Returning after a two-year recording hiatus (during which bandleader Danny Elfman recorded a solo album), Oingo Boingo forsook the excesses of smart-aleck humor and quirky production that had led critics almost universally to dismiss the band's first four albums. The sound is still maybe just a bit too uptight and over-determined, but the horn charts are more focused and sophisticated, and Elfman has matured considerably as a lyricist. Alongside such typically oddball fare as the title track and a surprise hit song called "Weird Science" are the faintly paranoid "Just Another Day" and the frankly romantic "Stay," as well as a glorious Motown tribute called "Help Me." But "Weird Science" is what really brings things to a close with a bang -- though it reverts somewhat to the band's earlier indulgence in wacka-wacka sound effects and willfully crazy production technique, it's also one of Boingo's most satisfying pop songs ever. Overall, this is perhaps the first Oingo Boingo album to hang together really well as a whole. Recommended.

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