Not many artists can get away with unearthing a seventeen year-old album for the first time and it already being regarded as one of the best of the year. But that sums up the genius (and the frustrations) of Paddy McAloon who could arguably write one great song a day but then very few would ever get to hear it. At least now we have ‘Let’s Change The World With Music’ and one of those near-mythical records is unleashed to the general public. It should almost go without saying that it doesn’t disappoint either.
It begins, rather suspiciously, with an uptempo dance kind of vibe, exemplified by some seriously dated one fingered piano. Fortunately the song is saved by a breezy chorus. Then again McAloon was never one for being a fashionable artist; where any attempt to move with the times seemed endearingly out of step. ‘Ride’ bounces along on layers of synths and beats and is the first of many to use the religious theme. In fact there’s not a track on here which does not celebrate a combination of music, love or religion.
Its two most stunning songs are superbly arranged. ‘I Love Music’ allies toe-tapping rhythms with killer synth hooks and ‘Earth: The Story So Far’ is made up of a breathtaking collage of sounds that hints at a brave new future (as it was imagined in 1992 of course); it is at once innocent, ambitious and beautiful. Lyrically, there’s a naivety on show with McAloon bordering on the overly simplistic at times but then the intention of the album title states that all too clearly. Some of the arrangements border on white soul; you can imagine Simply Red approving of ‘God Watch Over You’ for instance. Yet even the comparatively weaker tracks (‘Music Is A Princess’, ‘Last Of The Great Romantics’, ‘Angel Of Love’) are charming for McAloon’s unashamedly romantic sentiments.
‘Let’s Change The World With Music’ was recorded a couple of years after 1990’s brilliant ‘Jordan: The Comeback’ and it definitely falls short of that standard in terms of ambition, coverage of musical styles and overall quality. However, it is undoubtedly superior to 2001’s patchy ‘The Gunman And Other Stories’, Prefab Sprout’s last release. Furhermore, whilst the production techniques have aged, the songwriting quality remains undiminished. Let’s hope those other rumoured albums will eventually get a release and if they sound as behind the times as this record, then who cares so long as McAloon maintains his unerring knack of melody?
Prefab Sprout Unofficial Site
Simply Red, Aztec Camera, The Blue Nile