Golden Earring

Paradise in Distress

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    4
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After devoting their last few albums to covers and acoustic re-recordings of their past work, Golden Earring returned to recording studio-based originals on Paradise in Distress. The result is a mixed success. On the plus side, the group attacks their new material with vigor: the title track pairs satirical lyrics about religion and mock-gospel music to create a tune that is both humorous and hard rocking, while "Deja Voodoo" presents the band wringing every last drop of energy from a tight, funk-inspired groove. The band also produces a memorable ballad with the anguished "Whisper in a Crowd," which combines a delicate melody with a subtle, heartfelt vocal from Barry Hay to powerful effect and updates their traditional hard rock sound with a number of up-to-date production touches: some industrial-style electronic beats pump up the ominous atmosphere of "Apocalypse," and "Darling" fleshes out its dance-inspired sound with techno-style synthesizer programming. On the down side, Paradise in Distress lacks the consistently inspired material to sustain its 70-minute length: "The Fighter" is a stab at an epic tune that suffers from clich├ęd lyrics and a melodramatic lead vocal, while "Bad News to Fall in Love" is weighed down by a dual combination of uninspired riffs and lame "tough guy" posturing in its lyrics. Too many of the other songs lack memorable hooks or riffs and consequently run together. In the end, Paradise in Distress has enough strong tunes for the group's fan base but lacks the standout tunes and consistency to win over any new fans.

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