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Genesis - We Can't Dance CD (album) cover

WE CAN'T DANCE

Genesis

 

Symphonic Prog

2.66 | 1102 ratings

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Mr. Gone
2 stars Something of an improvement over "Invisible Touch", but only marginally so.

"We Can't Dance" is probably the "softest" of their entries - lots of smooth keyboard washes and an execution that is precise almost to the point of distraction, and not much of a bite. That can tend to give even the better tracks a real feel of sameyness, and combined with an excessive amount of filler serves to sabotage what probably could have been at least somewhat better.

The opener, "No Son of Mine", is a solid pop tune about domestic violence, featuring a slowed-down and processed guitar groan (prerecorded for live performances) over an ominous churning rhythm section as the intro. Some decent keys, mostly live drums and a decent guitar solo to finish. "Jesus He Knows Me" is the group's take on American televangelists. So-so lyrics and a chord progression riff we've probably heard a thousand times, but it's energetic and well-executed at least. "Driving the Last Spike" is probably one of the centerpieces, telling one man's tale of his work on building the British Railway system. While it's certainly not going to make anyone forget "The Cinema Show" or "Return of the Giant Hogweed" as an epic, it's definitely one of the best tunes here and progresses nicely through a series of moods. "I Can't Dance" is a sendup of jeans commercials, with a fun guitar riff and a ton of electronic percussion. "Dreaming While You Sleep" is a haunting tale of the ruminations of a person to blame for a hit and run accident, with some nice guitar work but a bit too pervasive of a drum machine. "Living Forever" has a nice (if overly soft) closing keyboard solo and a neat enough main body to hold your interest. The environmental track "The Way of the World" is another high point for me - great chorus and a suitably muted but engaging verse section. And "Fading Lights" features a great keyboard solo in the middle (though the vocal portion is arguably stunted by the all-too-frequently-heard-here soft keyboard washes).

So, it looks pretty good here, right? Well, if only these songs were used, this might have been a pretty good album. The problem, though, is that all the songs taken together (as was true on the eponymous album as well) simply don't hold up all that well. There's not enough distinguishing most of them from each other to truly grab and hold your attention. Drum machines are often used to a distracting degree. The keyboards are mostly soft, lilting and restful. No overly muscular tracks like "Land of Confusion", "Anything She Does" or "Just a Job To Do" to shake things up a bit. Just not enough variety here.

And then there's the filler, a problem which plagued "Invisible Touch" as well. Songs like "Never a Time" and "Hold On my Heart" are just middling pop songs which do nothing to enhance this album. "Tell Me Why" is a failed treatise on world hunger. And while "Since I Lost You" has the touching theme of Eric Clapton's grief for his deceased son, it ends up sounding like a Motown reject about a failed romance.

So, with a lack of variety in sound, some utterly disposable filler and not enough muscle, the solid playing and weightier subject matter aren't enough to buoy this album much more than a quarter-step above its predecessor. Two stars - and a nagging feeling there could have been so much more here.

Mr. Gone | 2/5 |

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