There’s a chilling word that record companies use. What you and I call ”music,” they call ”product.” Laura Branigan’s last album, Touch, sounded like product; it was a pop wasteland, music for a Styrofoam landscape.
This new one is better. It’s just as full of songs panting just as hard to be on the radio, but its rhythms are darker, tougher, far more ”street.” Branigan must have been born with a sob in her voice, and here, far more than on Touch, that sob casts passionate shadows over everything she sings.
Listen to Laura Branigan‘s first single, ”Moonlight on Water,” and you might be seduced into believing Branigan’s breathless images of what I guess is meant to be life fully lived: ”riding wild horses,” ”sex on the beach.” Stay to the end, and maybe you’ll even buy the uplift of the closing anthem, ”The Best Was Yet to Come,” complete with synthesizers plush as pillows and a glowing boy’s choir.
It might occur to you that you’ve heard songs like these many times before. That’s because you have. The lyrics of ”Bad Attitude” string together more clichés than you might have thought possible: ”diamond in the rough”; ”arrow through my heart”; ”I’ve only got myself to blame.”
But then ”Bad Attitude” is also the song in which Branigan, like a model modern woman, ditches the guy she just can’t rely on. So I admit it: I’m seduced. Call this album a guilty pleasure and watch for ”Moonlight on Water” to swarm all over pop radio. But you might not be seeing it on MTV. The video is full of inscrutable Significance, conveyed through incoherent shots of ballerinas and clowns. The director just should have shown us Branigan (who, when we do see her, looks dusky and full of genuine emotion). Or, for variety, moonlight on water, riding wild horses or sex on the beach. B-