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Peter Gabriel | Up | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop

Peter Gabriel

Up (Real World/ Geffen)
by Tim Den

This isn't your Dad's Peter Gabriel. In fact, he hasn't been that Peter Gabriel (cue "Sledgehammer" sound bite) in ages: Look up Passion (his soundtrack album to the film The Last Temptation of Christ), Us, and Long Walk Home (his recent soundtrack album for the film Rabbit Proof Fence). Or if you really wanna backtrack, how 'bout fuckin' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway? This man has always been more than catchy choruses and thick grooves. Up is just more proof that he can do no wrong.

It's been ten years since he last released a proper solo album, but the wait was worth every minute. Up is filled with trademark Gabriel-isms: Gorgeously rich arrangements, impeccable recording, masterfully-used world music instruments, inventive percussion, and, of course, heartbreaking melodies. Concentrating on his strengths, Up has Gabriel exploring the darker side of the human experience (like some of his best works). Namely death, emotional survival, regrets, and the uncertainty of old age. Whether he's crooning his way through fragile moments of serenity on "Sky Blue," crying out to the heavens on "No Way Out," leading an army of voices on (the especially moving) "More Than This," or bringing it all to an unsettling close on "The Drop" (a song so intensely calm, it conveys 57 years worth of feelings with just a voice and a piano), there's no denying that the man is still at the top of his game.

And it was during the explosive sonic tapestry of "Signal to Noise" that it really hit me: Peter Gabriel has always been ahead of the curve. This guy has been utilizing the so-called "electronic elements" in pop music since the mid-'80s! Gee, I wonder where Björk got her ideas from? Hmmm? I wonder why Up sounds just as contemporary, if not more, than the best downtempo albums out there... maybe cuz Gabriel practically invented the crossover?

We can argue all day about whether or not he planted the seeds for the likes of Massive Attack, but as long as he continues to fine-tune his ability to stir the human soul with his voice and melodies, Peter Gabriel will be relevant, beautiful, affective, and one of the best songwriters of our times.


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