As the dominant forces in the British band the Tourists, guitarist Dave Stewart and singer Annie Lennox shot some arty new life into tired old pop. Now, on their own as Eurythmics, they’ve turned their wiles to synth pop with even greater success. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), their U.S. debut, goes far beyond the usual robotic disco and frothy Abba clichés to prove that transistorized white soul doesn’t have to be wimpy.
Most extraordinary is the group’s transformation of the Sixties Stax/Volt steamer “Wrap It Up”; a drum machine kicks hard behind the clipped funk buzz of Stewart’s synths while a multitracked Lennox cooks like LaBelle on fire. On the striking title track, a bluesy, desperate-sounding Lennox digs into the dark corners of our pleasure zones with none of Soft Cell’s decadent smarminess. And the simple, dreamy “Jennifer” employs echoey, Philip Glass-type vocal harmonies to heighten the song’s intimations of suicide. Even when they resort to the obvious — which they do with the snappy, disco-style syncopation and shrill, girl-group-style chorus of “Love Is a Stranger” — Eurythmics always apply their electronics with nervy pop flair. At a time when most synth boogie is just New Wave party Muzak, Sweet Dreams is quite an adventure.