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Split Enz - True Colours CD (album) cover


Split Enz


Crossover Prog

3.01 | 36 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars One of the very best pop albums ever issued, and a classic example of punk-influenced New Wave, this 1980 album is a very long way removed from prog rock. So, mark this well: if you are one of those whose prog sensibilities are offended by pure pop, steer well clear of this.

'True Colours' broke SPLIT ENZ into the mainstream. A series of stunning songs will do that. There's not a moment of weakness, not a second of filler: up-tempo rockers, soft ballads, they're all compelling. Gone are the prog rock days of the mid-70s. SPLIT ENZ have finally found a worthy vehicle for their strangely eccentric, self-conscious zaniness, and for them new-wave pop proved the ideal format. This was the one true whole-hearted performance of their career, and is far and away the most successful pop album ever issued by a New Zealand band.

Off we go, then. 'Shark Attack' starts things off with a madcap keyboard swirl and manic vocals, reminiscent of the bizarre vaudeville beginnings of the band. It's followed by their biggest hit single, 'I Got You'. With exuberant Farfisa organ and a chorus straight out of the LENNON-MCCARTNEY manual of superb pop songs, this song is exactly what pop is all about, and signals the maturation of NEIL FINN, the most gifted songwriter in a talented lot. We're even treated to a sweet little keyboard solo of sorts. 'What's the Matter with You' keeps up the assault, another worthy pop number. 'Double Happy' is a splendid instrumental, as near as they get to prog, courtesy of the talented keyboardist EDDIE RAYNOR. 'I Wouldn't Dream of It' is a little repetitive, but the following track ('I Hope I Never') is glorious, filled with self-deprecatory pathos and sporting an excellent, unusual and dramatic arrangement, evidence of the ENZ's broadening ambitions. I cannot imagine it not appealing to a neutral listener. 'Nobody Takes Me Seriously' is an archetypal new wave song with a simple beat and a great chorus. The wistful and occasionally off-kilter soloing stamps the ENZ brand on the track, and it does build to a nice finish. 'Missing Person' treads much the same ground as the preceding track, though with slightly more sophistication. 'Poor Boy' is my favourite SPLIT ENZ song of all, a whimsical exploration of a long-distance radio-wave relationship between human and alien - so typically ENZ. TIM FINN's vocal performance here makes the song, as does the great keyboard line in the chorus - and the track builds to a dramatic conclusion. A great way to spend three minutes. 'How Can I Resist Her' is throwaway pop. The album closes on a high with the instrumental 'The Choral Sea', reminiscent of early OMD - but haters of the 80s sound need not bother with it.

Clearly, this is NOT a five-star prog album. In terms of progginess, this gets one star. But it is, in my opinion, an almost perfect pop album, and represents the very best of new wave music. Irresistible - if you like that sort of thing.

russellk | 4/5 |


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