Tuesday, December 1, 2009

455. Synchronicity- Yes, you’re right, it’s a very pretentious title.


Album: Synchronicity.

Artist: The Police.

Year: 1983

Genre: Pop.

Tracks.

  1. Synchronicity I
  2. Walking in Your Footsteps
  3. O My God
  4. Mother
  5. Miss Gradenko
  6. Synchronicity II
  7. Every Breath You Take
  8. King of Pain
  9. Wrapped Around Your Finger
  10. Tea in the Sahara

Some rock stars are well-read individuals who digest the great thinkers and share their own insights with the record-buying public through the medium of song. Literature and Rock may make strange bedfellows but you can see examples in any CD store- Dylan and poetry, Bono and the Bible, Robert Plant and Tolkien, Motley Crue and old issues of Hustler- the written word speaking to the song lyric. One individual who feels the need to share the contents of his bookshelf with the world is Sting especially when his reading matter of choice concerns tantric sex.

But before he could wank on for hours about how he could shag for days, Sting was a member of the Police and inflicted his reading on the rest of us. At the time he was obviously into Jung and the theory of Synchronicity- which, lets be honest, is basically just a lot of tosh about coincidence. Synchronicity is best defined as “a pointless attempt to find meaning in random chance” but it’s the sort of thing that it’s easy to get romantic about if you’re a thirteen year old girl- or Sting.

You may have gathered that I’m not Sting’s biggest fan and you’d be correct. Well spotted. I’ve got no problem with his voice or his music, it’s the fact that he’s just so damn pretentious and smug. He’s like the Anti-Keith Richards. If you ask Keith about the deeper meanings and hidden subtexts in his songs he’ll smirk at you in his heavily-creased way and say something like: “It’s just a fuckin’ song man.” Suggest to Sting that his music is just a song and he’ll try and persuade you that in fact you’ve missed the eighteen extra levels and the importance of what he’s trying to do. If there’s one thing I can’t abide in a rock star its smugness.

Anyway the point of this review isn’t to take pot shots at Sting it’s to review Synchronicity which is one of those albums that falls into the “Band falling apart” category. A last gasp by a group of musicians who can’t bear to be in the same room as each other. The fact that Sting is a prat and the band was falling apart is one of those amazing coincidences that Sting would probably call Synchronicity but the rest of us call inevitable. Copeland and Summers couldn’t stand their lead singer and refused to have anything much to do with him. Consequently the songs that make up this album are either Sting songs or songs by the other two

Copeland’s song is called Miss Gredenko which is actually rather good. It’s quirky and catchy and a lot of fun and makes me realise that Copelands contribution to the sound of Oysterhead (the best post-Police release by any of it’s members) was more than just as a drummer. Summers' song is called Mother and it’s just appalling. There are those who believe it was his genuine attempt to sabotage the release by writing the worst song he could. Certainly the shouted lyrics don’t fit into the rest of the album at all and it’s the sort of thing that should be tucked away at the record's end rather than in the middle of side one where the hits normally go.

Although it pains me to say it, some of Sting’s songs are actually rather good. Every step you take is justifiably held up as a classic. It’s a great song even though it has incredibly creepy lyrics. I’d never really paid attention to the words before but if you listen closely its less about love and more about obsession and stalking. It’s not a narrative tale that could ever end happily. The other songs aren’t as good but they’re in roughly the same vein: catchy, melodic pop occasionally ruined by daft lyrics. Walking in your footsteps is a painfully bad attempt to link humankind’s ability to destroy itself with the mortality of the dinosaurs. I’m hard pressed to pick the most stupid lyric, it’s a close call between

“Fifty million years ago
You walked upon the planet so,
Lord of all that you could see
Just a little bit like me”

And…

“Hey Mr. dinosaur
You really couldn’t ask for more
You were god’s favourite creature
But you didn’t have a future

Or possibly…

“You were built three stories high
They say you would not hurt a fly
If we explode the atom bomb
Would they say that we were dumb?”

It’s a tricky call, you decide.

If you can overlook Sting’s pretentiousness and the amazing coincidence that there are two songs on this album called Synchonicity then there is actually something here to enjoy. The problem is just how hard it is to overlook the smug.

Highlight: Every breath you take

Lowlight: Mother

Influenced by: Reggae (although less so than their previous releases)

Influenced: Sting’s solo career.

Favourite Amazon Customer review quote: “Why no one likes "Mother"? It's like "On The Run" on Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" or "Tomorrow Never Knows" on the Beatles' "Revolver": very very weird, but it gives a new perspective and meaning to the album and makes it worthwhile.”

-Whoah! Hold on there just a second. Comparing Mother to Tommorow Never knows. Are you out of your mind?

So what do you think- is Sting a Prick or do you find the Police Arresting? Let me know below.

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