Monday, December 5, 2011

Police 2: Reggatta de Blanc

In keeping with the brand image, the second album by the Police didn’t deviate much from their established standard. However, as often happens with a second album, it’s clear that Reggatta de Blanc required a little more work to be complete. Circumstances dictated that the band be fairly democratic, with several compositions credited to Stewart Copeland and the one-in-all disclaimer “all noises by the Police”.
Despite trawling the clichéd theme of an isolated individual following some kind of disaster, “Message In A Bottle” was catchy enough to be a bit, and added another guitar riff to be passed along like a cherished secret code among listeners. The title track—another made-up foreign-sounding phrase meaning “white reggae” but still conveying a seabound image—is another excellent distillation of the band’s sound, complete with wordless vocals. “It’s Alright For You” retains some of the snottiness from the first album, just as “Bring On The Night” expresses a level of nihilism. Unfortunately, “Deathwish” doesn’t really take off at all.
The promise of the album title is reinforced on side two. “Walking On The Moon” provides another singalong, much more cheerful than “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”. In between there’s “On Any Other Day”, written and sung by the band’s monotonic drummer, and not the last time the band would present a suburban nightmare. He’s also responsible for “Contact”, which is nearly as musically interesting as “Does Everyone Stare”, a truly hidden gem based around a broken-finger piano part. The mix changes in time for a repeat of the first verse, expanding the sound without doubling it. However, the closing “No Time This Time”, while a good tune, deserves a better vocal than it got.
There’s enough quality on Reggatta de Blanc to make it worthwhile as a whole, but the Police were basically treading water. Some stretching would be necessary for the band to keep from repeating themselves.

The Police Reggatta de Blanc (1979)—3

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