The Three O'Clock

Ever After

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The Three O'Clock's second and final album for IRS (and also the first without original guitarist Louis Gutierrez, who left shortly after 1985's Arrive Without Travelling was released) is the group's first stumble. Coming after a string of brilliant paisley pop records, Ever After sounds comparatively limp. Future Lightning Seeds leader Ian Broudie's production overemphasizes Mike Mariano's keyboards, which themselves have a new, more contemporary (by 1986 standards) sound that sounds extremely dated in retrospect. The William Orbit-remixed single "Suzie's on the Ball Now" particularly buries a good song under bad production. More worryingly, Michael Quercio's songwriting is not up to the standards of his earlier work. The melodies are less sparkling and the lyrics lack his playfulness. For every winner, like the touching closer "Songs and Gentle Words" and the delightful "The Penny Girls," there's an overlong filler track like "Follow Him Around." In retrospect, Ever After is merely mediocre (it wasn't until 1988's Vermillion that the group descended into the genuinely awful), but it's certainly a disappointment for longtime Three O'Clock fans.

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