The roster of ‘80s pop acts that successfully reinvented themselves decades later is only marginally longer than the list of great kosher barbecue restaurants. Those ‘80s artists who reentered the spotlight at all either went the nostalgia route, trotting out the old hits, or banged out new tunes using the same old formula. Red Box, however, seem to have found a workable new sonic identity that neither trades on the band's past nor seems likely to alienate old fans. In the mid-‘80s, Red Box took their synth pop sound to the upper reaches of the British pop charts with such hits as "Lean on Me" and "For America," but the group only lasted until 1990. On their first album in 20 years, though, Red Box leave the drum-machine beats and synth riffs behind in favor of a warmer, much more organic approach. With Simon Toulson-Clarke still at the helm, working with a new batch of musical partners, Red Box have crafted an emotive, melodic, ballad-centric album in Plenty. Based around an acoustic framework, bearing just a touch of soul and some judicious atmospheric touches, Plenty has more in common with the work of Blue Nile than it does with anything from the electro-pop era. Part of the reason Toulson-Clarke was able to pull off this stylistic shift is that even in the ‘80s, Red Box really only used electronics as a means to an end, rather than making a sonic fetish of them. Their classic pop sensibilities brought them fame to begin with, and even in this new format, decades later, those sensibilities still stand Red Box in good stead.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by James Allen