Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Belinda Carlisle – Sun

FACT: Her best single is still “Summer Rain.”


Edward Okulicz: Carlisle left the U.S. for France some years ago and on the way back somehow managed to craft an amalgam of the buffed-’til-gleaming radio pop of the 80s and 90s she made so brilliantly with “When Love Takes Over” and every song like it. The end result is either somewhere in the middle of the ocean, or right in the middle of a little genre I like to call “Sophie Ellis-Bextor.” It’s not embarrassing, but where the chorus of, say, “Leave a Light On” soared and roared, this one just floats and burbles. But while I don’t envy the producer who had to steer her through this chorus, her wonky pipes charm through the verses, and “Sun” evokes its title more than adequately.

Alfred Soto: For a few years Belinda Carlisle amassed a string of terrific singles; listening to them end to end on Greatest Hits confirms she was one of the eighties’ least appreciated purveyors of joy, and, yes, I credit the all too human qualities of her wobbly voice (can you deny “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “Leave a Light On”? Could George Harrison?). Out of the game for years, Carlisle wisely sticks to midtempo chug-pop, her bread and butter during the golden years. The production here is a straitjacket, though, and without Rick Nowels’ songdoctoring the chorus refuses to lift.

Will Adams: It Gets Sunnier, apparently. The chorus really shines, its braided vocals riding the melody with ease. Shame about the indescribable/undeniable/etc. bridge.

Scott Mildenhall: There’s something about once-famous voices reappearing outside of their established context that just doesn’t sound right. Is it really that, without the weight their names used to carry, they can only attract mediocre producers? Or just that the collision of associations makes it feel jarring? In other words, would this sound so cheap were it performed by a newer artist? As performed by Belinda Carlisle it sounds like it should be soundtracking a Weight Watchers advert – beyond having a suspiciously similar piano line to Finley Quaye’s “Dice,” it’s the spiritual twin of that Toyah song.

Jer Fairall: I’ve missed her voice, and there are small but welcome hints, in the introductory verse, of the husk of that great Go-Go’s deep cut “Mercenary” in addition to her trademark effervescence, but Tiesto-esque rave synths are both the first thing that I would expect to hear and the last thing that I would want to hear on a 2013 Belinda comeback bid. I’m reminded of how some griped when her old band took on Bille Joe Armstrong as a songwriting partner back in 2001, but at least a certain lineage of California punk pop could be drawn from that collaboration, and “Unforgiven” absolutely rocked besides. No such analog exists for this middling bit of fluff.

Katherine St Asaph: It’s standard these days for artists to make their retro synthpop production sound silky or fiery or cool. This is how to make it sound dated. That’s worth an extra point.

Brad Shoup: Pulsing, urgent pop-rock from seasoned hands. Carlisle’s horizon-broad delivery projects an awesome amount of emotion and a minimal amount of vibrato. Subtract her and you’d have a boshy, homemade “Clocks” remix circa 2005 — not a terrible prospect, mind.

Reader average: [8.84] (13 votes)

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