Why, oh why, did the Dream Academy fade into obscurity after only three albums? A combination of beautiful soulful lyrics, the distinctive oboe sound of Kate St John, the production skills of David (Pink Floyd) Gilmour, and some of the most intelligent - if occasionally rather pretentious - songwriting of the 1980s made this band one of the finest art-rock acts of their era; and by the time "A Different Kind of Weather" was released, they had pretty much perfected the art of the wistful, thought-provoking, not-quite-pop song.
It's hard to find a bad track on the album. Almost all have infectiously catchy tunes and a brilliant line in irony in the lyrics ("St Valentine's Day" is the best anti-Valentine's song ever written, and the perfect antidote to being dumped!), one or two of the tracks ("Forest Fire" and "Mercy Killing") are almost protest songs but without the band ever sounding self-conscious or "worthy", "12/8 Angel" is a brilliant piece of rock with a very non-commercial-pop beat, and "Waterloo" is a gorgeous piece of scene-painting. The cover version of John Lennon's "Love" which opens the album may not be to everyone's taste (it wasn't to mine) but there's no denying the sheer craftsmanship in the production of the song, and it reintroduces a Dream Academy key requirement - the "wordless lyric", most famously heard in "Life in a Northern Town" - which is otherwise surprisingly absent on this album.
This album is a great antidote to the school of thinking which says that all "serious" music has to be as glum as Radiohead or Coldplay. It may make you think, it may touch a heartstring or two, but it's unlikely to leave you without a smile.