Prefab Sprout Website: A Life of Surprises

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Swoon / Steve McQueen / Protest Songs


This  cheapo CD pack of Prefab Sprout's first three albums captures the delicately furious energy of Paddy McAloon's virgin creative surge. Swoon, featuring Cruel and Couldn't Bear To Be Special, remains intriguingly wistful, subtle and loose-limbed of word and melody-qualities sensitively enhanced by a Thomas Dolby gloss finish on Steve McQueen (When Love Breaks Down, Desire As). Then with Protest Songs (recorded in '85, though released four years later), the Prefab Sprout got tougher, almost strutting through Life Of Surprises and Tiffanys. The three-pack offers plenty for those who want to dig for the details beneath the gorgeous sound-especially when McAloon's lyrics break through the sort of personalised codification that would baffle a crossword king to lay out couplets like Behind the soft and peachy skin / Where DNA or God begin.

4 stars