Howard Jones

Dream into Action

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Dream Into Action begins with Howard Jones singing "Things Can Only Get Better," a sentiment that only hints at the good vibes touted by the synth pop singer on his second album. On his debut, 1984's Human's Lib, Jones sang about positivity, but this sequel plays like a self-empowerment manifesto, filled with cautionary tales and anthems of hope. "No One Is to Blame," a cavernous ballad of encouragement which was given a hit revision with the assistance of Phil Collins, exemplifies the latter but it doesn't typify the album, which trades in peppy pop tunes of self-actualization, best represented by the chipper hits "Things Can Only Get Better" and "Life in One Day." Synthesizers retain their place in the spotlight but Dream Into Action doesn't feel like a synth pop album, not in the way the sleekly electronic Human's Lib did. Instead, this is a big, bright album that epitomizes the sound of the mainstream in the mid-'80s, a time when computers worked overtime to disguise themselves as human sounds. And that's why Dream Into Action is, in many ways, the apotheosis of Howard Jones' career: he'd yet to drift into softened adult contemporary, and he still had enthusiasm for his hooks, his machines, and his positivity, the very things that distinguished him from the legions of synth poppers in the mid-'80s.

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