Less overtly jazz influenced than their later albums (and the only album on which the core duo of keyboardist Andy Connell and singer Corrine Drewery is joined by drummer Martin Jackson, who had formed the group with Connell in 1985), Swing Out Sister's 1987 debut It's Better to Travel is a dreamy collection of mostly electronic pop songs that manages to sound warmly organic through the judicious use of real strings and horns and Drewery's lovely voice, which recalls the throaty purr of vintage Dusty Springfield. The album spawned a worldwide hit in the coolly sophisticated "Twilight World" and an all-time classic in the sunny opening track "Breakout," one of the finest U.K. pop singles of the late '80s and one of the few hits from its era that doesn't sound completely dated in retrospect, but unlike many albums in this style, It's Better to Travel works as a complete unit. Album tracks like the Northern soul-tinged "Fooled by a Smile" and the cinematic instrumental "Theme From It's Better To Travel" are every bit as good as the singles, and the well-paced album has a natural flow. The CD adds four bonus tracks, remixes of the two hit singles, and "Surrender," plus the meditative instrumental "Communion."
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason