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Peter Gabriel - Us CD (album) cover

US

Peter Gabriel

 

Crossover Prog

3.62 | 470 ratings

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TCat
3 stars After a long 6 years after Peter Gabriel's excellent and extremely popular album "So", we finally got a new album: "Us". Many fans were waiting and expecting something as wonderful as "So" was, and many people were disappointed. It seems 6 years is what it took for the public to completely understand and fall in love with that album, and when, this album came out, everyone wanted a carbon copy. Even though Gabriel worked to perfect this album and utilized a lot of the same techniques, I think a lot of people didn't want to have to let this album "steep" as long as "So" did, and they gave up on it early.

That is, at least, the explanation I have for the general public in regards to "Us". As far as myself, I have a hard time with this album because Gabriel tried to hard with it. I find it too polished and perfected, and I find Gabriel's music works better when it is more spontaneous and unpolished. Everything just seems to be too careful. The album comes from a difficult time in Gabriel's life, and the lyrics in the album reflect that, but the perfection of a lot of the tracks don't reflect the emotion that is due.

Now that doesn't mean it isn't a good album. There is plenty of great music on this album, but it seems to be a little disconnected when it comes to being personal as "So" was. Gabriel uses the world music influences as with the afro-beats and African influences, but it seems to be pushed to the background more this time around. And, for the most part, the entire album is more subdued. The world beats were so appealing on "In Your Eyes" are too subdued on several tracks like "Come Talk to Me". This worked on the previous album on the beautiful "Mercy Street", but when he tries that formula on "Blood of Eden", it seems to be flat. On the other end of the spectrum, forward push of "Sledgehammer" tries to come forward on "Steam", but it ends up sounding more like a copy than a follow up. In fact, my wife heard that track playing and thought it was Huey Lewis. For me, "So" was the perfect album for a lot of reasons, especially for its originality. "Us" however, tries to become too much like that album, and ends up sounding less emotional and heartfelt.

Now, there are some more original songs here, and that is where the best part of this album lies. For example, "Washing of the Water" is a beautiful song and the first point of the album where Gabriel actually sounds like he feels connected to the music. His vocals are very emotional and the lyrics are extremely meaningful. "Digging in the Dirt" might be repetitive, but it also doesn't sound like a copy from the previous album. It is a great upbeat track, obviously meant to be a single, but it also sounds original and Gabriel even uses some great vocal calisthenics. "Kiss That Frog" is a good rocker about fellatio (it's amazing how the lyrics take on a whole new meaning when you know that), but it's a little too poppy for its own good. At least it doesn't copy anything from "So". "Secret World" is probably the strongest track on the album and feels like Gabriel in his natural element, unique and heartfelt and in no hurry to prove anything.

You do have to dig a little deeper to find the great parts of this album, and a lot of that is because the best parts are buried in the songs that are trying to hard to copy his past success. Fortuantely, "Up", the next album, would prove to be much better and more original, full of emotion and ingenuity. "Us" has always been a hard one for me to get through, but at least the better tracks were left more on the 2nd half of the album. It's just hard to get around the 1st half making this album good, but not great.

TCat | 3/5 |

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