Another year and another label for Marc Almond, along with a newly stripped-down band, La Magia, with Willing Sinner vets Annie Hogan, Billy McGee, and Steve Humphreys on drums. Even more so than Stories of Johnny, this is Almond with an eye and ear on making a commercial record while still being himself, and the result is much better than expected. Bob Kraushaar's production feels much lighter and brighter in general than Mike Hedges' past efforts, and the songwriting often matches it -- the sprightly opening title track, followed by the tenderly passionate "These My Dreams Are Yours," makes for what has to be the most upbeat start to a Almond album yet. Similar moments crop up throughout the record, including "Bitter Sweet," with a killer sweeping chorus, the sparkling, slightly jazzy "The Very Last Pearl," which gives pulsing nightlife one of its best makeovers ever, and a triumphant, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink version of Gene Pitney's "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart," replaced on later versions of the album with the U.K.-chart-topping duet with Pitney himself. That said, it's still an Almond album through and through -- the lighter songs still have his sweet purr in the vocals (and Hogan's keyboards and instrumental arrangements remain uniformly excellent), while moodier and expectedly dramatic numbers still turn up in abundance. The forceful duet with Nico, "Your Kisses Burn," calls to mind prime Lee and Nancy, with masses of strings to boot; elsewhere, "The Sensualist" acts as his clearest statement yet on the many erotic joys life has to offer. Perhaps most surprisingly of all, "Tears Run Rings," his most overtly political number to date, became a minor U.S. hit.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett