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Split Enz - Mental Notes CD (album) cover


Split Enz


Crossover Prog

4.12 | 60 ratings

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4 stars After three years of singles only, Mental Notes allowed Split Enz more room to stretch out, and prog out! It veers very close to being symphonic prog in several places - "Under The Wheel" and "Stranger Than Fiction" particularly - and even in the poppier tracks there are still wigged out prog moments, like the keyboard interlude in "Amy" or the ending of "Song Long For Now". They certainly have great instrumental firepower, particularly in main keyboard player Eddie Rayner. However, there are few extended showcases for the instrumentalists - the focus remains on the vocals at nearly all times. That is potentially the album's weakness, because both singers at this point favoured an overly theatrical, highly mannered vocal approach that can be off-putting, especially from Phil Judd - it took me a few listens to get past that and begin to appreciate the compositions. It's probably the vocals rather than the prog elements that kept them from being an immediate commercial success, considering there are plenty of otherwise radio-friendly moments here - "Amy", "So Long For Now", "Time For A Change" (which resembles an early Elton John ballad at times), "Maybe", "Spellbound" (the version here, with Judd on vocals is far too edgy - the re-recorded version featured on The Beginning Of The Enz shows how much difference a smoother vocal approach could make to the accessibility of some of these compositions) - among the more overtly proggy tracks like "Walking Down A Road", "Under A Wheel", "Stranger Than Fiction", and "Titus". I have definitely found the album to be a grower - if you can learn to love the vocal approach, this album sits up amongst the best of Australian/NZ prog of the era.
sl75 | 4/5 |


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