Stolen Wishes

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After the release of the superb Shoes' Best compilation reminded pop fans of the group's great songs and deliciously idiosyncratic style (and reintroduced Shoes to the creative and financial benefits of going D.I.Y.), the band (now officially shorn of drummer Skip Meyer) headed back to their studio and recorded Stolen Wishes, their first album in five years (and first American release since Boomerang in 1982). Somewhere along the way, Jeff Murphy, Gary Klebe, and John Murphy appeared to have gotten over their collective distrust of keyboards, and the bright, punchy sound, peppy tempos, and frequent synthesizer washes of Stolen Wishes sound like a studied attempt at a more "contemporary" sound from a band who seemed perfectly content to be slightly anachronistic a decade earlier. Oddly enough, as a result, 1989's Stolen Wishes seems significantly more dated several years later than the guitar-based popcraft of the albums Shoes released between 1977 and 1982, which still sound pleasingly timeless. (And who told the guys those pseudo-Duran Duran haircuts they're sporting on the cover were a good idea?) But Shoes were a band who had never been short of great pop songs in the past, and their gifts as writers did not fail them on Stolen Wishes; the album is loaded with great hooks and hummable melodies, and their vocal harmonies are spot-on throughout. Stolen Wishes isn't quite as strong as Shoes' earlier work, but it's still a strong dose of well-crafted pop, and dozens of the bands who traveled in their wake would love to have songs as good as "Love Is Like a Bullet" or "Feel the Way I Do" to their credit.

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