Benny Mardones

Let's Hear It for Love

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Apart from some of the production and some wear on his voice, Let's Hear It for Love could easily be mistaken for an album Benny Mardones released in 1986 instead of one from 2006. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, mind you: Mardones' success was built on "Into the Night," a moody soft rock single so good it was a hit twice in one decade, and his strength lies within the arena rockers and power ballads that make up this 12-song album. As the title gently suggests, this record is heavy on love songs, meaning that there are a lot of slow-crawling sentimental tunes that are nevertheless driven by big, cavernous drums straight out of the mid-'80s -- and when there's a change of pace, as there is on the grinding, slightly sinister-sounding Seger-esque rocker "Innocent Girl" or the surging Eddie Money duet "Let's Hear It for Love," it also sounds like a throwback to '80s album rock. When Mardones has the melodies -- as he does on the rockers and on the smooth "How Could I Love You More" and the relatively sprightly "Could We Fall in Love Again" -- this is enjoyable stuff for anybody who has a taste for either Mardones or the softer mainstream pop of the '80s. But the singer just as often gets bogged down in treacly, turgid emoting that will please his devoted fans but will turn away those casual fans who only know (and only love) "Into the Night."

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