To paraphrase the English Beat's second album, wha'ppen? General Public's first album, released just over a year after the English Beat's split, was a solid piece of candy-coated pop featuring several terrific songs by singer/primary songwriter Dave Wakeling. Hand to Mouth, released barely a year and a half later after a couple of personnel shakeups, is a huge stumble in comparison. Continuing All the Rage's trend towards slick pop production, but finally tipping over into bland anonymity, the album makes absolutely no musical impression even after several listens. Even worse, the songs are a uniformly dire lot, replacing the reggae and Brit-pop influences with newfound interests in American R&B and chart pop. Even the few moderately catchy songs are flawed; the gospel-influenced single "Come Again" moves along cheerfully enough until an absurdly over-emphasized "boop boop!" shout in the chorus makes the whole thing sound simply ridiculous. Unsurprisingly, General Public broke up shortly after this album's release. The belated CD issue includes several negligible B-sides and remixes.
Hand to Mouth Review
by Stewart Mason