Music

(Melt)

3As is the case with Sting’s tunery, Peter Gabriel’s music has always struck me as a rather untidy synthesis of pop, prog, and world music.  At his best, Gabriel is a poppy git; you can dance to his slick evocations of sex (“Shock the Monkey”; “Sledgehammer”; “Digging in the Dirt”; “Steam”).  At his worst, he’s a pretentious twit.  No matter where you turn, the distinct musk of arty self-importance permeates the man’s catalog.  You can smell it a mile away.  His vocals, though, are the sticking point.  On this, the third and best of his eponymous albums, he bolsters the song-craft, tightening the rhythms and making the lyrics more prosaic than he had done previously.  Propped by the canned and airless feel of the production, there’s even a kind of motif, that of a man losing, or grappling with, his identity as the world around him burns.  (When I bought the CD in my teens, I was reading Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a book which seemed to tie nicely into the music.)

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