Laurie Anderson

Bright Red

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Five years after the release of 1989's pop-oriented Strange Angels, Laurie Anderson returned with Bright Red, a Brian Eno-produced excursion into much darker territory. Strange Angels and its predecessor, 1984's Mister Heartbreak, introduced a new level of melodic and rhythmic sophistication into the spare electronics of Anderson's early work, but Bright Red largely dispenses with that; instead, Eno provides a sound closer to his trademark ambient music (though it's still more melodically and rhythmically varied than, say, Ambient 1: Music for Airports) and Anderson largely abandons singing for her earlier, more conversational spoken-word style. Thematically, the album is filled with images of disconnection, miscommunication, and fear, with the sly wit and deadpan humor of her early days almost entirely absent. The result is an album that's more to be admired than enjoyed, since (apparently by design) it's nearly impossible to make any sort of emotional connection with this music. Gossip hounds will enjoy combing "In Our Sleep," a duet with then-boyfriend Lou Reed, for hints about their relationship.

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