This band was great live in their native San Francisco in 1993, where they pack 'em in as the leader of the surprising S.F. shoegaze scene. But much of what made them so special isn't present on this recording. Though the sound quality is fine, the LP's far too slick and polite, where live they're majestic and loud. The vocals are clear but sit atop the music instead of blending, and the songwriting and playing, though proficient, lack the depth, variety, and dramatic turns they display on the newer stuff they do on-stage. In fact, too much of this relies on courteous dance-pop -- they lack the bite and melodies of those who've done this far better, "Sons and Fascination"-era Simple Minds, for one. The dreaded Manchester sound of a few years ago is now thankfully deceased, but Providence occasionally resembles a more glossy, less stylized (hard-grooved) Happy Mondays without the bad attitude, or some other lesser Factory outfit (though not as bad as Northside!). And as this longish, 53-minute CD progresses, it can lose one's attention due to its conservative, narrow scope. Still, in the right mood this pretty record can seem wonderful, and it seems likely their next record will be a contender -- the large hints of it here, like on the sprawling title track that opens the record, portend much greater heights than this. If their crime is trying to fly too high and crashing, mortal wings melted, that's a crime worth dismissing when it doesn't drown in ego -- and this group, led by solid frontman Tim Ong, may soon plot a much more breathtaking return flight. Or say, how about a live LP!!!
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AllMusic Review by Jack Rabid