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Savage

These are the dreams of the everyday housewife — well, at least the dreams of the everyday schizophrenic housewife. The latest opus from Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart (working as a duo again after a couple of albums in which they used outside musicians) goes a few steps beyond the themes of Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love, moving into the world of domestically induced insanity. More or less a concept piece in two discrete parts, Savage is a series of sometimes harrowing portraits that represent an abrupt shift from Eurythmics’ equally intense but more user-friendly recent work.

Side one goes inside a mind twisted by the confusion of a stifling relationship. Lennox’s characterizations are often chilling, especially as she chirps the title line of “Do You Want to Break-Up?” with all the sweet innocence of a love-struck teen asking someone to go steady, while Stewart plays appropriately light, spare synth pop.

On side two, Lennox’s split personality gets its acts together. On “I Need a Man,” she’s a female Mick Jagger drawling cock-tease lines over Stewart’s Keith Richard-like guitar; on “Put the Blame on Me” and “Heaven,” she’s a cooing disco diva; and on “I Need You,” she becomes an acoustic singer-songwriter longing for emotional abuse (“I need someone to pin me down so I can live in torment”). On the whole, the second side is more muddled musically and lyrically than the hypnotic first, and the it-was-all-a-dream resolution (the multilayered vocal showcase “Brand New Day”) seems a bit trite — the heroine walks out, head held high. Still, this unsettling story makes another distinctive entry in the Eurythmics catalog.

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