Howard Jones

Angels & Lovers

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By 1997, Howard Jones had disappeared from the spotlight. It had been five years since he had a major-label contract and eight since he had a hit, which meant that American labels weren't eager to release Angels & Lovers, his first studio album since 1992. It's easy to see why labels in the U.S. passed on the record, leaving it to the Japanese-based Pony Canyon label: there's not a hook to be heard on these 12 songs. Using a set of equipment that sounds like it hasn't been updated in ten years, Jones turns in a series of songs that have more to do with texture than melody. That's not to say Angels & Lovers is a new age album, since each song has complete lyrics and melodies, it's just that the vocals blend into the washes of synthesizers. Only two songs, "You're the Buddha" and the title track, are uptempo and danceable, while the other ten tracks are simple, featureless ballads. Lyrically, they are among his most introspective songs, but the listless, meditative music makes it difficult to pay attention to the words. Ultimately, Angels & Lovers is undone by Jones' allegiance to late-'80s synthesizers. In simpler settings, these songs may have had some power, but in these polished, mechanized productions, they sound lifeless.

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