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Split Enz - Time and Tide CD (album) cover


Split Enz


Crossover Prog

3.74 | 27 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4.5 stars!

Anyone with an art-rock obsession eventually finds out that Split Enz are far from your typical wimpy new wave band. My own journey through this interesting world (ie. Roxy Music, 10cc, Be Bop Deluxe, City Boy, Crack The Sky, Sparks, etc.) led me to Split Enz's 1975 album, 'Mental Notes,' because it was apparently a much proggier Split Enz than the one I remember watching as a wee lad on MTV (the "I Got You" video). Compelled by the debut's eccentricity and wide stylistic span, I went further. This journey, now 7 albums deep, has culminated with 1982's 'Time and Tide.'

As someone who thinks Genesis' 'Abacab' is a near-masterpiece, I guess I was able and ready to absorb 'Time and Tide,' and any other post-prog Split Enz material for that matter. And this album, the band's seventh, is likely one of the greatest art-pop albums of all time.

Immediately striking is the earthiness of the recording. Produced by Hugh Padgham (see 'Abacab' and 'Invisible Touch'!), and not knowing much about the band's '80s material other than "I Got You," I expected something else, something more purposely-synthetic. Something wave. Either I don't know anything about new wave, or I like new wave now, because this album has a lush, layered feel, despite some of the simplicity of the writing and the economy of the performances.

The album opens with the dippiest pop/new-wave verse ever in "Dirty Creature"...and that is really about is dippy as it gets, as the song turns foreboding in the chorus, and that thread of pop-dread continues into "Giant Heartbeat." Then the album becomes a bit looser and more playful. The middle section, particularly "Small World" and "Take A Walk", move in a similar realm as '80s-era Genesis and '80s-era Peter Gabriel (parts of "Small World" are uncannily similar to both those artists' '80s output). Then just as the album came in with a couple songs on the more brooding side, it ends with a great depth of variety, beginning with instrumental "Pioneer," which is a lush keyboard-only symphony written and performed by keyboardist Eddie Rayner. That segues into a series of songs that go from bright and upbeat sing-along stuff ("Six Months in a Leaky Boat") to folky ("Haul Away") to haunting (Neil Finn's "Log Cabin Fever" masterpiece).

The album ends on a great note with "Make Sense Of It," which, much like earlier album track "Never Ceases To Amaze Me," feels like pop on the surface but is weaved through with enough agile, clever melodic elements to lend it more depth than the inanity of most pop.

Split Enz embrace pop, but transcend it completely with great albums like 'Time and Tide.' Fans of progressive rock, art rock, and just plain weird music will appreciate Split Enz's smart approach to pop music. This album isn't the place to begin if you're new to the Enz, but once through the eccentricity of earlier offerings like 'Mental Notes,' 'Second Thoughts' and 'Dizrythmia,' your palate will be sufficiently warmed up for the rapid transformation into pop which began on the 'Frenzy' album. 'Time and Tide' is the clear peak of the band's many achievements; the fact that it doesn't sound the least bit dated proves itself as an album of universal worth, adaptable to a huge variety of listening tastes.

slipperman | 4/5 |


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