Up

Peter Gabriel's Up could be subtitled "Fear and Loathing at Real World Studios." Ten years in the making, the album is full of primal imagery dealing with birth and death, and sometimes it sounds like Gabriel died a thousand deaths putting it together. Somber and self-serious, the songs are punctuated by bursts of disquieting noise ("Darkness") or bathed in eerie technothrob ("Growing Up"). But the inspired moments, such as the celebratory soul groove that momentarily transforms the elegiac "I Grieve," are muted by dirges such as "The Drop." Gabriel tries to pick up the tempo on the theatrical "Barry Williams Show," a seven-minute song about how daytime talk-show hosts are soulless exploiters of human misery. (No way!) Long one of rock's most innovative artists, Gabriel has never sounded more out of touch.

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