Tom Verlaine

The Wonder

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This album, brought out after a second three-year release hiatus, is noticeably less successful than prior efforts. Verlaine here sings in a smooth, oily manner (suggesting a smarmy version of Bryan Ferry) that does not wear well over the course of the album. All the selections here feature upfront, often thudding drumming -- whether the number warrants it or not. Some potentially good material gets ill-considered treatment here; "Prayer" might have been haunting and warm, "Pillow" could have been touchingly expressive, and "August" might have been subtly intriguing except for the drumbeat and vocals imposed upon them. There's no shortage of dance-style, often funk-oriented selections here, such as "Kaleidoscopin'," "Shimmer," "5 Hours from Calais," and "Ancient Egypt" (this last has a flailing nonsense guitar solo akin to that of the McCoys' 1960s garage-band hit "Hang On Sloopy"). "Stalingrad" is a reasonably earnest, direct number that is rather unusual in Verlaine's body of work. This release is a real disappointment and I unfortunately cannot recommend it.

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