Real Life

Down Comes the Hammer

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AllMusic Review by

Down Comes the Hammer marks the point when Real Life finally start to repeat themselves. Out of commercial necessity, mostly, but unfortunate all the same. Just like their two previous sets, the album starts with an instant synth pop classic, "Babies" -- co-written by Device pop songwriter extraordinaire Holly Knight -- which contains the haunting anti-war refrain, "We are bleeding babies/Is anyone there?/We are bleeding babies/In a playground battlefield/Justify just to simplify." The lyrics are dynamite, the signature Real Life synth hook that should have made this an instant classic is again in place -- and, again, Real Life faced the daunting task of living up to Send Me an Angel. (Ironically, they would only do so when they re-released "Send Me An Angel '89" as a single three years later.) "Night After Night" and "Hammer of Love" are the only two other new tracks here -- the rest are culled from Real Life's superior Heartland and Flame albums. And you can't blame them -- the tracks deserved a second chance to become hits. And once again, critics and synth pop fans let them down. This album is good as a reminder of just how great a band Real Life is -- but, aside from the new wave masterpiece "Babies," it is too much a rehash of Heartland and Flame. Again, it is a crime that -- even the second time around -- this much great new wave music went unnoticed by so many.

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