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Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel 2 [Aka: Scratch] CD (album) cover


Peter Gabriel


Crossover Prog

3.00 | 555 ratings

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3 stars More similar to its predecessor than its successor, 2/Scratch take the artsy pop and rock arrangements one step further, resulting in that this is perhaps the most commercial-sounding of Peter Gabriel's first four self-titled albums. It's more a tentative test of styles, moods and methods than a uniform collection of related songs. Of course, that could just as well be said about his solo debut, but that album benefited from a lot more confidence and the new-found joy of stylistic freedom. While I initially was kind of negative to its transitional stuck-in-the-middleness, the good things still outweigh the bad ones with repeated listens. Many of the songs seem to struggle with a conflict between cutesy, catchy and a weird form of attitude or even aggression that makes them feel either disjointed or rushed. There's definitely an element of constriction to the flow of music, regardless of whether it comes from a dip in writing or lacking confidence in the material. Cheery bar-piano runs, comedy (whether that's the intention or not) somewhat clumsy riffs and songs made of parts that do not mix well with each other are all shortcuts to disappointment. And on top of that, Peter just isn't his emotionally complex self often enough.

On the whole, the sound of the album is rather twee, even during more rock-oriented passages, and while the instrumentation can be rich, I often find it to be a bit lacking in depth and power. The sparkly, joyful effects of 1/Car is still here, most prominently on the more upbeat tracks like On The Air and Perspective. Expect some playful piano and synthesisers and a thin guitar sound (highpoints of that are Fripp's Crimsonesque naked, screeching contributions). Levin's bass work is as groovy and jumpy as ever.

For me personally, the more sombre and less unabashedly extrovert tracks (which for me are truer reflections of what I expect from Peter Gabriel as an artist) are the most enjoyable, and those that stood out at first. After the initial gloss of On The Air and D.I.Y it's amazing to hear the up-close and personal reflection on Mother of all Violence. Scaled-down, beautiful acoustic guitar and piano opts for one of the more honest performances here.

White Shadow is another favourite, mysteriously clouded and full of atmosphere for five and a half minutes. Excellent keyboard usage, focusing on atmosphere and poignancy. The inconspicuous guitar tip-toes in a charming way, and further enhances the feel that for once on this album, all the players are moving in the same direction and have the same goal. Indigo is another calm song, and a natural step from White Shadow. It benefits from both the more minimal sound of Mother of all Violence and the colourful effects and sounds of White Shadow, but it's all done with less tension and focus.

Exposure is a particularly dividing song amongst fans, with its repetitive drone and experimental nature, but I really like it. The infectious bass-line and linear composition have a way of getting to you. Soaring, spacey effects makes for an interesting ride through a hypnotising beat and various Fripp-isms. Good stuff.

It's easy to listen to this album twice and think "Okay, some good songs, overall the worst of the first four. 2 stars" and leave it at that. But in doing so, you're a bit unfair. This might just be me as a fan talking, but like some other reviewers have noted, this is a grower. I often come back to it for both those songs that were immediate favourites and the sunnier, lighter tracks. It's not as immediate or interesting as many of his other albums, but still features quite a lot of quality music. Still, if you're just a casual fan or someone trying to discover Peter Gabriel's music, this is the last one of his first four you should acquire.

For a transitional, uneven but often enjoyable ride with some top notch music in between.

.3 stars.


LinusW | 3/5 |


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