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    Thu, 15 Mar 2007 13:41:48

    Album Reviews: Genesis by Genesis

    Maybe Phil Collins, Tony Banks, and Mike Rutherford thought they were making a "career-defining" record when they chose to title their fourth studio album as a trio, and 12th overall, Genesis. On the other hand, maybe they just knew they had produced their simplest, most accessible album to date, and it deserved a simple title, one that signified a new beginning for a band whose name was literally synonymous with beginnings.

    Whatever the motivation behind the title, Genesis is indeed a pleasant, pop-oriented album, the most cohesive and satisfying work the band ever produced during its days as a three-piece. The singles "That's All" and "Taking It All Too Hard" gleam with the shiny, crystalline surfaces of all the best '80s pop, and even more expansive numbers like the two-part "Home by the Sea" stay firmly rooted in catchy melodies and major-key chords. Only the sparse, creepy "Mama" and the album's rather baroque closing tracks, "Silver Rainbow" and "It's Gonna Get Better," give any hint that this was the same band that did Abacab, much less Selling England by the Pound.

    Still, only a band with a prog-rock background could make a radio-friendly single as quirky as "That's All," or a rock radio hit charged with as much corny melodrama as "Just a Job to Do," which casts Collins in the unlikely role of hired assassin. "Illegal Alien," the album's only misstep, is even unlikelier, with Collins adopting an embarrassing, vaguely racist Mexican accent. But what makes Genesis such a durable album is that tug-of-war between the band's proggy pretensions and the unpretentious pop that would eventually come to define them—so much so that, by 1991's We Can't Dance, they could no longer do prog-rock, even when they tried.

    --Andy Hermann

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