Daniel Amos

Fearful Symmetry

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Fans of Daniel Amos' early guitar rock may regard this new wave pop album as an artistic surrender to the electronic trends of the 1980s. But this album is in fact a good deal more creative and intelligent than most of the Euro-synth music that influenced it. The band (identified only as DA this time) does invoke the computerized stylings of Depeche Mode, Human League, and Alphaville, but echoes of Pink Floyd are equally audible. Terry Taylor's verse is at its most sublimely lyrical, describing familiar Christian theology with a fresh mysticism. In Taylor's hands, doctrine that in lesser hands would sound sterile is full of shadows, beauty, fear, and hope. DA has made an interesting choice: to use this trendy, much-debased synthetic pop genre as a context for its most poetic material. There is a sizable dose of Taylor's usual goofy humor and biting cleverness ("Sudden Heaven" is a manic electronic hoedown; "Instruction Through Film" mocks campy '50s educational films while taking shots at moral legalism), but there's also a good bit of serious literary allusion (the album title is a reference to William Blake's "Tyger! Tyger!," "Beautiful One" paraphrases Robert Frost, and much of Taylor's poetry evokes the spiritual awe of Gerard Manley Hopkins or T.S. Eliot). Unfortunately, the low-budget pop sound does sometimes slip into the tinny hokiness common to the lesser purveyors of '80s pop. But DA's high ambition never falters.

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