The 77s

All Fall Down

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The 77s were still struggling to establish themselves with their second record, an album that, while light years ahead of its predecessors, still evidences some of the pesky drawbacks of youth and naïveté. One thing was clear from the outset: Michael Roe was developing into an astounding pop songwriter. The single-syllable chorus of "Ba Ba Ba Ba" was instantly infectious, and the foreboding "Caught in an Unguarded Moment" is an easy rival to Robyn Hitchcock. But elsewhere the band is too easily constrained by the genre trappings of the day. The Hall & Oates pop of "Your Pretty Baby" and jittery synths of "Under the Heat" very clearly place All Fall Down at the center of the 1980s, and on too many occasions there is a longing for the band to strip off the trappings and play the songs in their barest form. Recorded in a different manner, "Another Nail" might have been a stellar Go-Betweens song -- but in its moussed-up, synthed-up form it is thoroughly cringe-inducing. Likewise, "Mercy Mercy" and "You Don't Scare Me" pale when considered alongside their sweaty, superior renderings on 88. All Fall Down proved a promising step for the 77s, but the room for improvement was vast.

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