The first thing that strikes the listener of Acqua Fragile's second and final album, 1974's Mass Media Stars, is that singer Bernardo Lanzetti sounds remarkably like Peter Gabriel. These six lengthy songs would sound more than a little like Selling England By the Pound-era Genesis even without that vocal similarity, however. Unlike the softer, more acoustic sound of the band's self-titled debut, the arrangements this time out focus on rich layers of piano, guitars (both electric and acoustic), and layers of vocal harmonies; the suite-like songs shift quickly from complex passages in tricky time signatures to the sort of choruses that suggest that the bandmembers could have become actual pop stars if they hadn't broken up shortly after this album's release. In particular, the opening "Cosmic Mind Affair," dopey title and lyrics aside, is surprisingly catchy, and the gentle ballad "Bar Gazing" and the cacophonous title track have the sort of clever, humorous lyrics that typified bands like Stackridge or Hatfield & the North. All but unknown out of the band's native Italy, Mass Media Stars is one of the better late-era progressive rock albums well worth seeking out by fans of the style.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason