all of Prefab Sprout’s albums, a first listen to ‘Jordan: The Comeback’ yields little. It sounds like AOR technological ramblings, pretty arrangements but no songs. There seems to be little point in playing the thing again, but you do anyway. Again, nothing happens. You read a little, you do the washing up.
Cut to later the same week. The tip of a mountain of crockery peeks over the lip of the sink. Our hero lies before the stereo, staring at the ceiling. As with love, he wonders how he ever lived without these songs. He can’t remember a time when they weren’t etched into his heart as if with a diamond nib.
All the world loves lovers / Love whatever the price, Paddy McAloon breathes on
‘All The World Loves Lovers’, one of the 19 tracks on this honey of an album. So why doesn’t all the world love Paddy?
He is, after all, one of the few of this earth with too much vision to fit snugly into the narrow confines of pop. While some of the world seems to think that the repeated use of a wah-wah pedal constitutes some kind of a breakthrough, McAloon writes songs that creep up your spine at a leisurely pace and then squeeze the movement of your limbs.
Lyrically, he speaks of trying to be a "Fred Astaire with words". Anyone who presents a song about the erotic charge that was Abba’s Agnetha Faltskog
(‘Ice Maiden’) has to have some magic in the vocabulary. And when he takes on Elvis’ celestial velvet suit for
‘Jordan: The Comeback’, singing “And all those books about me / There wasn’t much love in them, boys / If I’d taken all that medication / I’d rattle like one of my little girl’s
toys”, you feel light-headed, as if you’ve just seen the Bolshoi Ballet fall down the steps in a railway station and land on their feet.‘Jordan: The Comeback’ is Prefab Sprout’s best since ‘Steve McQueen’ (Thomas Dolby’s production, again, is a boon). ‘We Let The Stars Go’ arches with the exquisite loss the title implies; 'Mercy' despairs quietly alongside some of his best weepies
(‘Cruel’ and ‘Goodbye Lucille’); and ‘All Boys Believe
Anything’ is like something out of West Side Story.
Well, here’s the line: If there ain’t a heaven that holds you tonight / They never sang doo wop in
Harlem. Prefab Sprout, take a bow