Kim Wilde

Come Out and Play

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Come Out and Play is a bouncy, driving, boisterous record that blends power pop with modern techno touches in an obvious attempt to take on Lady Gaga's generation, and though it ultimately fails, it is an honorable defeat. Kim Wilde is omnivorous when it comes to musical styles, the way a good pop artist should be, but for the most part, the songs have the same template: beats going at just the right tempo to get the dancefloor moving, a simple synthesizer or guitar hook, background keyboard tinkling, verse-chorus schemes, Wilde singing out her simple lyrics (topics, somewhat unexpectedly, include not just love, but also stuff like self-actualization, treated the self-help book way), the general vibe of an energetic evening party (dimmed lights, sensuality in the air), and a good rock push to add some drive. Variety is a rare guest here, with only a couple of songs, including the brief closer, breaking the pace for something slower and pensive, and the relentlessly pounding tunes, while invigorating at first, begin to lose impact by the fifth or sixth rehash of the same (possibly earlier). But lack of diversity is no great problem for a dance-pop album, even one masquerading as rock; a bigger issue is that, despite all attempts to sound modern, Come Out and Play still feels old-school, veering to Blue System on the worst offenders, second-rate Roxette on the best cuts, and Cindy Lauper jamming with Whitesnake elsewhere. The outcome is no real contender for pop greats of 2010, but instead sounds surprisingly close to Japanese pop/rock with its abundant energy and love for tried and true musical recipes (think Nanase Aikawa and Anna Tsuchiya). It's hardly what Wilde had in mind, but, considering that J-pop was just in the process of taking over the Western world at the time of Come Out and Play's release, perhaps it still counts as a success.

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