Level 42 - Retroglide

If ever proof was needed that record company bosses like a drink, then this is it. Quite what was going through the minds of the great and good at Universal when the idea for a new Level 42 album was floated, but I can't imagine them getting much of a bonus this year. You can only imagine that Mark King has gotten his slap-happy hands on a number of pictures of management all nude and lewd. Here we have a bloated, horribly overproduced album of slap-bass and pop, firmly rooted in a past that no-one outside of Level 42 are particularly interested in any more.

Opening track Dive Into The Sun is the album in a nutshell - horrible fake funk, bass slapping away, tinkling keyboards with an over fussy arrangement. The chorus is almost torture, particularly the sax break taking you back into the melody (such as it is). The Way Back Home is even worse - King doesn't have that great a voice at the best of times, but on this track is sounds nasal and annoying, a slow song that never gets going, just repeating over and over.

Title track Retroglide is so overblown, shrill vocals and abysmal lyrics that would have sound dated around the time of Lesson in Love. Slightly better (comparatively speaking) is Helltown Story, which at least happens to have a mildly interesting tune. Closing track When Your Ship Comes In also manages to rouse a bit of bluster to finish things off. It fails though to redeem anything - this is an album of appalling low quality, with little to interest anyone bar the most ardent fan. A word for Universal - better keep of those liquid lunches.

The band are on tour throughout October and can be seen at various venues. See their website for more details.

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