see also: Brian Eno, John Cale

Album Reviews:

1990: Wrong Way Up

Wrong Way Up

Rating: 2.8/10
Rated as
: Album
Album Status: for Completists
Released: October 1990
Specific Genre: Synth Pop, Art Pop
Main Genre: Art Rock, Contemporary Pop, Pop
: Ambient Pop
Label: Opal

1. Lay My Love 2. One Word 3. In the Backroom 4. Emtpy Frame 5. Cordoba 6. Spinning Away 7. Footsteps 8. Been There Done That 9. Crime in the Desert 10. The River
US-Bonus Tracks [2005, All Saints Records]: 11. You Don’t Miss Your Water 12. Palanquin

I am the sea of permutation

Eno and Cale team up for a little exercise in artsy synth pop rock. The results are a prime example of well-crafted, refined boredom. The instrumentation is synth-studio-dabbling at its lamest (and, at this stage, completely out-dated – this isn’t 1977, this 1990, mind you): echo-y synths abound, the beats are metallic and bubbly, the melodies are, well, ‚there‘ in a neutral sense, and all the harmonies are nice and correct. Their supposed game here is pop, and their pop is sterile.

There are a few redeeming moments, the synth pop grandeur of „Lay My Love“ works fine, the sombre Cale-mood piece „In the Backroom“ is good, and the weird, sneaky Duran Duran-hommage „Footsteps“ is actually reaching the realms of slight obliqueness, pop as discomfort in the best way. Cale steals the more interesting moments vocally, but the project seems like a pretty democratic affair.

I’m not sure what do we do with empty tracks like “The River” or „Empty Frame“: a doo-wop song with synth pop production sung by two elderly british gentlemen. This sounds like something a cheap cruise ship entertainer would croon into his microphone, accompanied by his pre-programmed keyboard beats. Ultimately, the overall appeal of this album is reserved for people who really can’t let go of 1980s synth pop but haven’t really understood why pop is camp.