Blue Hotel

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Fox's third and final album is an uncomfortable mix of the eccentric and the mainstream. The eccentricity is, in the main, supplied by the lead vocals of Noosha. As some have pointed out, these have a certain shrill edge with similarities to the singing of Kate Bush, though Bush wouldn't start recording until shortly after Fox had wrapped up their recording career. Too, the material -- written, in the main, by producer Kenny Young (who also plays guitar and percussion and adds backup vocals), with some assistance from guitarist-singer Herbie Armstrong -- is an odd blend of the flirtatious/coquettish and the floridly spaced-out. The arrangements, however, are very much in the chilly, slickly produced AOR mid- to late-'70s style, and none too impressively so. There are touches of progressive rock (especially in the keyboards and synthesizers), funk, and whimsical '70s singer/songwriter pop. It's not an appetizing blend, but the greater problem is that the songs aren't strong enough to support the eclectic ambitions, with a faintly ludicrous flightiness invading the lyrical imagery of songs like "Magic Machine," "Friendship Rose," and "Moustaches on the Moon." The highlight might be the most straightforward song, the bittersweet "Make It Like It Used to Be"; unlike much of this record, it doesn't seem to be trying hard to attain an exotic flavor beyond its reach.

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