The Pretty Things

Cross Talk

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Who would have thought it? Reunited after splitting in the mid-'70s, the Pretty Things return with a new wave album. It's not what anyone might have expected, but it's very far from a disaster. The stop-on-a-dime arrangements and natural power show them to be well-seasoned, and Phil May, with an extremely mannered voice, comes across as a taunting frontman. In fact, you tend to feel that if Thin Lizzy had eased up on the metal, they might have made an album very much like this -- great, catchy songs based in R&B and old rock & roll ("Lost That Girl") -- but with the tongue firmly in cheek (check the Sting imitation on "No Future") while pandering to fashion. But when the results are as good as the jangly "Office Love" or "I'm Calling," you really don't care where the tongue's residing. There's a sense of history about the '50s drums on "Falling Again" that no young bucks could ever match, nor could they come close to the band's overall professionalism or stinging guitar work of Peter Tolson. Any of these ten tracks would have made a great single and by rights should have returned the band to major-name status. But justice is thin on the ground in music and instead it became one of the lost Pretties albums -- a shame, since in its own lighter way, it's every bit as good as their classic albums of a decade earlier. Some reunions don't work; this one just roars.

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