Symphonicities by Sting
Sting has been a staple on light radio since his solo ventures in the 1980s, stepping away from the New Wave sound of his critically acclaimed band, The Police. So after a year of touring with his former bandmates, the release of his latest solo album, Symphonicities was, not surprisingly, the antithesis of what The Police once stood for.
The cover art sets the stage for the album in being (for the most part) bland and pretentious, critiques that Sting has been battling throughout his career. Truly great album art should be able to tell the viewer what the album is about (not lyrically, but stylistically and ideologically) without using any words, and as such I suppose this cover did succeed – it serves as a warning that nothing within this record that will be particularly inspiring or revolutionary.
Including the orchestra in what is essentially a greatest hits rerecording is always a definite risk and Sting should be applauded for taking it. But while the Scorpions succeeded in making "Moment of Glory" (featuring the Berlin Philharmonic) a truly electrifying album, the orchestra in this case does not add anything, but rather makes the songs even blander than they already were. Take for example the third track, “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” – arguably the Police’s finest song, has been stripped of all the soul of the original, until the remaining music reminds the listener of a garden and/or wine and cheese party.
The tracks themselves are all very similar, despite hailing from different points in Sting’s life – they all seem to merge together into a homogeny of light pop. You would expect The Police cover tracks to be the most entertaining on the album, which they are, yet they too have lost their edge and become more of a Sting song.
If there is one interesting aspect to this album (and I stress the word if) he has done a vaguely adequate job at inventing the genre of classical reggae - which until now hasn’t existed, and for a reason. Additionally, he is a very capable singer, and he displays his vocal range quite well – in a sense, “he’s still got it”, even if what he had was not that great in the first place. While this album's singles may not be hitting the top 40 chart any time soon, it's definitely a good buy for fans who have been there since the beginning of Sting's adventures.
Overall, the album would go best at a small get together with good company and good booze. It isn’t that bad if you want something in the background while you schmooze with the guests. It does make a great conversation piece, but I see no reason why you would want to turn it on in your car or listen to it while you walk down the street. Hypothetically, if you are the kind of person who enjoys listening to Captain and Tennille, than you might want to throw it on the hi-fi of your expensive yacht, but otherwise there’s no excuse for just listening to the album on its own.
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