Before the release of this successful 1979 album, Holmes released four albums that failed to capture him at his best. Shortly before this, Holmes made his mark as songwriter. He penned the kitschy cannibalism tale "Timothy" for the Buoys. From his 1976 effort Singles came "The Last of the Romantics" which was covered to great effect by Engelbert Humperdinck. Partners in Crime finds Holmes more focused with pop savvy and a great batch of songs. The effort's biggest hit, the ingratiating "Escape" (The Pina Colada Song)," though skilled, is cutesy enough to make some people's eyes roll. Despite the nature of that track, Holmes was also willing to tackle more interesting issues. With the slightly disco-fied title track, he deftly examines the male/female dynamic as business deal. Throughout the song, Holmes is having a lot of fun with every salacious detail. "Nearsighted" has him going the power pop route and all but wringing tears out of seeing "slightly out of focus." As Partners in Crime goes along, what becomes striking is some of the tracks' subtle use of R&B flourishes. "Him" depicts Holmes as the cuckold and has a beautiful string arrangement, a great hook, and strong, vivid lyrics. The album's best ballad, "The People That You Never Get to Love" has Holmes again giving a warm and confident vocal and is poignant rather than weepy. Although there are a few waste cuts, on the whole Partners in Crime is a thought-provoking and polished album.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Elias