Mental as Anything

Mouth to Mouth

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Though it didn't fare as well as Fundamental two years before, the Mentals' sixth album is just as good, though on a different level. With producer Richard Gottehrer back on board, Mouth to Mouth ups the commercial ante even more, adding more synths, mechanical rhythms, and even a horn section to the mix. As always, the band shines through with fantastic songwriting and impassioned vocals, especially from Martin Plaza, whose voice has become so powerful and passionate that the band had better take out an insurance policy on those pipes. Reg Mombassa's fretwork is all over the album, yet his songwriting takes a backseat this time around, with only two tracks on the album: "Stay at Home Girl" and "Wandering Through Heaven." Greedy Smith, the band's hit-maker on the previous album, submits four for approval, including "He's Just No Good for You," "Let's Go T=to Paradise," "My Door Is Always Open to You," and one of the album's only missteps, "Mouth to Mouth." There's some great pop here that will please fans of Squeeze and Nick Lowe, including "Don't Tell Me Now" (with great backing vocals from O'Doherty and Mombassa), "Thinking Out Loud," and more. Apart from the title track, only "I'm Glad" fails to please, though it is not a total failure. Many of the band's core fans were torn by the album's slick production, though it only enhances the immediacy of the songs.

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