On Heart's latest comeback album, a desperate desire to make music that complies with current radio formats overwhelms what made the band interesting in the first place. Back in 1976, sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson had a bright, original idea, balancing a profound Led Zeppelin infatuation with some tight mainstream songwriting. Unfortunately that concept was the only one they ever fully developed. Nine albums on, Heart is running on fumes.
What remains of Ann Wilson's vocal originality drowns in Ron Nevison's pumped-up, AOR-happy production. The songs themselves, steeped in rock-radio clichés, offer little help. Lyrical indecision mirrors other artistic vacillations. On side one, Ann Wilson catches her lover "in the act can't put up with that," but on side two, she snickers that "what he don't know/Will never hurt him." There's nothing wrong with that the Wilson sisters can live their lives as they please but the album is presumably presented as a unified whole, the failure of which reduces its ten tracks to crass product. Only on the alternately enticing and brooding "Never" does the band stray from the formula, and the results indicate that such ventures are where Heart's future, if it has one, lies. "Never" is exciting because it offers evidence that the band still has talent and smarts; it's also infuriating because it's the only glimmer of that talent Heart offers. (RS 459)
(Posted: Oct 24, 1985)
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