Half the equation missing
Pat Benatar's albums are known for her searing rockers mixed with slow, dramatic ballads. It's a mixture that's worked well for the big-voiced singer.
However, "Tropico," her latest effort, delivers on only half of her usual winning formula.
The songs on this album are all quiet, poetic pieces, unbalanced by anything that just rocks out. It's like having an entire album of "Love is a Battlefield."
The first single from "Tropico" is "We Belong," a ballad that keeps building to a climax that never occurs. The lack of relief is frustrating for the listener, although that's tempered more than a little by the fuller, richer timbre of Benatar's voice on this song. It's a new side to her singing, different from the rough sound on her early hits, and is a welcome sign of growth.
"Painted Desert" may be the best song on the album. The bluesy feeling is anchored by Myron Grombacher's drum work and reinforced by Neil Geraldo's slow, meandering guitar. The subdued tones of Benatar's vocal is yet another new shade to her singing.
The song that comes closest to her rockers is "A Crazy World Like This," the most energetic song on the album. She lets loose her a bit more than on the rest of the album, but it's no "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."
On "Outlaw Blues," Benatar and the band aim for social relevance, but the lyrics come off rather shallow:
The union man said You would be recalled But the company up and moved To Taiwan
At about the same time Benatar was recording this album, she also laid down a song for the soundtrack for the reissue of the silent classic "Metropolis." It's too bad that "Here's My Heart" isn't on this album, because it is easily the best song she's done this year, and the energy and verve on it would have been welcome on "Tropico."
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