search for something...

search for something you might like...

Back in the World Peter Gabriel's overly generous return.

Back in the World

Peter Gabriel's overly generous return.

by Jay Lewis, Reviews Editor
first published: December, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

There is a great forty-minute album inside this sprawling sixty-eight minute package

PETER GABRIEL
i/o
Real World/EMI
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite_borderfavorite_border

 

It's been twenty-one years since Peter Gabriel released an album of new material and, if truth be told, thirty-seven years since his last truly great long player. 'So' (1986) was the last time he successfully mixed his art-rock leanings with pop sensibilities, cerebral concerns with open-hearted emotions to any great effect.  

The good news is that 'i/o' is the most cohesive and accessible album Gabriel has released since 'So'. In the energised 'Road To Joy', the protagonist is waking from a coma and gloriously re-engaging with the world, he is 'back in the world' and, if you want to see that as a metaphor for Gabriel's re-energised state, be my guest. 'Panopticom' may be the unlikeliest of sing-alongs and the delicate, and orchestrated 'Playing For Time' will have you reaching back to 'Here Comes The Flood'. 

However, despite this reinvigorated sense of creativity, despite all of the musical inventiveness, despite the presence of the blessed Brian Eno, there are still shortcomings to contend with. For all of its good intentions (songs tackle technology, law, democracy and - most frequently - mortality), the lyrics sometimes feel overworked and even clumsy ( '...it's William Blake who inks his sting/Drawing out Martin Luther King' and  'Far, far away/Out amongst the stars/There’s a planet spinning slowly We call it ours' being two of the clunkier lines). 

Ultimately, there is too much here to digest - only a couple of the numbers here clock in under the weightly five-minute mark, and some could easily have been demoted to b-sides. There is a great forty-minute album inside this sprawling sixty-eight minute package.  And no, I don't want to play a spot-the-difference game with the two separate mixes of the record (Bright Side and Dark Side). There is so much to adore on 'i/o', but less would indeed have been more. I hope that he makes his next album, rough edges and all, in under six months. 

 

Jay Lewis
Reviews Editor

Jay Lewis is a Birmingham based poet. He's also a music, movie and arts obsessive. Jay's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.


about Jay Lewis »»

RECENT STORIES

RANDOM READS

All About and Contributors

HELP OUTSIDELEFT

Outsideleft exists on a precarious no budget budget. We are interested in hearing from deep and deeper pocket types willing to underwrite our cultural vulture activity. We're not so interested in plastering your product all over our stories, but something more subtle and dignified for all parties concerned. Contact us and let's talk. [HELP OUTSIDELEFT]

WRITE FOR OUTSIDELEFT

If Outsideleft had arms they would always be wide open and welcoming to new writers and new ideas. If you've got something to say, something a small dank corner of the world needs to know about, a poem to publish, a book review, a short story, if you love music or the arts or anything else, write something about it and send it along. Of course we don't have anything as conformist as a budget here. But we'd love to see what you can do. Write for Outsideleft, do. [SUBMISSIONS FORM HERE]

OUTSIDELEFT UNIVERSE

Ooh Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha May 29th
OUTSIDELEFT Night Out
weekend

outsideleft content is not for everyone