America

Perspective

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Like many soft rock and adult contemporary groups in the early '80s, America began to experiment with synthesizers and drum machines -- after all, this was a cheaper way of making records, especially compared to the '70s method of recruiting the most expensive studio musicians available. They had begun to experiment with synths on Your Move, but only slightly; the album still had several numbers that were more or less organic. With their final album, Perspective, the band adapted to the '80s style of production, relying almost entirely on synthesized arrangements and programmed reasons. This method of making records would eventually cripple adult contemporary, making it sound way too slick and soulless, but here, the synths were simple enough to sound organic and there were other instruments that allowed them to breathe, plus the natural harmonies of Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell. Plus, in retrospect, there was something charming about these early, stiff drum machines. All of this makes Perspective sound like a period piece, which it is. There were no hits from the album and the songs (while better on the whole than those on the lame Your Move) were all pretty slight, which leaves the actual sound and production as the main reason to recommend the album, especially since the group doesn't seem really committed to making a record. So, it's not a great America record and not a great way for them to end their career, but pop culture anthropologists looking for a synthesized soft rock artifact from '70s veterans losing their way in 1984, just as the genre was disappearing from the Top 40, should be intrigued by this endearingly mediocre effort.

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