Brand New Day

In 1985, Sting gave up the role everyone loved him in — leader of the Police — and got on many sets of nerves, royally. But after fifteen years of skilled music, the notion of Sting as pompous pop serioso is dated. Brand New Day is Sting's most stylistically integrated album since 1987's Nothing Like the Sun. There's groovy Rai music, witty bossa novas, warm-hearted Bach revisions and independent country, plus a smashing finale, "End of the Game," that comfortably finishes the century with a fox-hunting metaphor. Sting hasn't changed his stripes: There's still expert musicianship, from Dominic Miller's guitar stylings to Sting's own terra-cotta vocal shadings and outbursts, and there's still superprecise song construction. But he sounds like what you have to sound like to keep doing fresh work when you're no longer a pup: unbored.

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