Friday, December 30, 2011

Police 3: Zenyatta Mondatta

The boys recorded their third album very quickly, and Zenyatta Mondatta was both surprisingly good and a surprise hit. While still retaining the white reggae of the first two, they finally began to stretch, bringing in synthesizers for a few tracks.
An automated hum is the first thing we hear as “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” creeps in, along with its famous lyric about a schoolteacher beset by temptation. (At least they appeared to be having fun in the video.) “Driven To Tears” provides something of a political statement, with an amazingly discordant solo and a tense instrumental section before the final resolution. “When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What's Still Around” immediately follows, giving something of an answer to the questions asked. The reggae reaches ska speed for “Canary In A Coalmine”, a song with high-pitched vocals, thick lyrics and a demand to pogo. “Voices Inside My Head” is virtually a one-chord jam, and we finally hear from another band member on “Bombs Away”, and we notice that Sting tends to overemphasize Stewart Copeland’s melodies.
People often point to “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” as a stupid lyric, but that was the point. As simple as it is, at least it’s got a cool bridge. “Behind My Camel” is a gratingly repetitive instrumental tinged with horror that actually won a Grammy. The beat comes back for “Man In A Suitcase”, but slows way, way down for “Shadows In The Rain”. And it all ends with another confusing instrumental, “The Other Way Of Stopping”.
Though it runs out of steam at the end, there’s a enough good in Zenyatta Mondatta to make it worthy of repeat listens. The band were never quite happy with it, however, and would return to a few of the songs in the future, as we shall soon see.

The Police Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)—3

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