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Split Enz - Second Thoughts [Aka: Mental Notes] CD (album) cover


Split Enz


Crossover Prog

2.87 | 28 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Old songs, new songs

It is all very confusing! I have an LP by Split Enz called "Mental Notes", but I find it is not actually the band's first album, but one which is listed on this site as "Second thoughts". Further investigation reveals that many of the tracks on my album were in fact on the original "Mental notes", but these versions were re-recorded a year later in London with Phil Manzanera producing. It seems the original "Mental Notes" was a southern hemisphere release, the band's career effectively restarting in the northern hemisphere a year or so later.

The album starts off in very 10CC fashion with the bouncy "Late last night", a decent piece of sophisticated pop. This is one of five (of ten tracks) which are not common to both albums. The song sets the tone for much of the album, which is very heavily vocal with little room for instrumental development. Even when tracks such as "Walking down a road" do break for brief instrumentals, they are whimsical and lightweight.

"Titus" is notable for its fine arrangement, but the following "Lovey dovey" is almost punk like with hesitant trembling vocals and a jaunty rhythm. "Sweet dreams" has a slightly more interesting structure, but it is still very much a vocal based song with a catchy hook on the chorus.

The second side has arguably the more interesting tracks, specifically the 7 minute "Stranger than fiction" and the similarly timed "The woman who loves you". "Stranger than fiction" is one of the re-recordings from the first album the track boasting some decent guitar and overall some more interesting instrumentation. Tim Finn's piano work here also adds some attractive colours. "Time for a change" is for me the most enjoyable track on the album, the simple voice plus piano basis with added harmonies offering a welcome contrast to the majority of the album. There is a solo Peter Gabriel like feel to the song, especially when the track suddenly bursts open into a loud symphony. The Gabriel similarities are emphasised further in the "Counting out time" like "Matinee idyll".

"The woman who loves you" effectively closes the album, but fails to fulfil its promise, being a longer version of the educated pop of side one. My version of the LP includes a very brief tenth track, "Mental notes" which is entirely disposable.

In all, I cannot say Split Enz impress me as a band, let alone a prog band. Their music is generally too pop orientated and drifts too close to punk for my tastes. There are certainly moments of inspiration on this album, but overall I find it difficult to recommend it.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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