Cheap Trick

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Busted Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Surely, Cheap Trick didn’t intend for the title of Busted, their 1990 sequel to their surprise 1988 commercial comeback Lap of Luxury, to be as prophetic as that of its predecessor, but this vacant, radio-ready rocker finds the group at an unquestionable nadir. It’s not just the sound -- although the shimmering skyscraper production admittedly does the group no favors, neutering Roy Wood’s “Rock N Roll Tonight,” turning its swing into a stiff martial march -- it’s the paucity of material that is so dispiriting, the group either turning in pastiches of their trademarks or surrendering completely to the whims of studio hacks, whose tunefulness eclipses that of Nielsen and Zander, this time around. Like The Doctor before it -- the only album to rival this as the band’s worst -- Busted captures every bad sonic hallmark of its year; it’s as cavernous as that 1986 disaster, thanks in large part to the gargantuan rhythm section, but at least it’s warmer and less reliant on cold synths than that garish misfire, which does make it an easier listen. Even so, the pounding arena rock of Busted remains a bumpy ride because the hollow sound only magnifies the hollowness of the band’s songs.

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