Following the success of 1984's `Various Positins', Leonard Cohen continued to follow the path of combining modern synthpop production with his typically understated and stripped back style for this, his 8th studio album released in 1988.
It is a record of its time, but due to Cohen's impeccable songwriting and singing it has hardly aged at all. It contains the Cohen trademarks of personal, inteliigent, literate lyrics, lovingly crafted for maximum effect. A bit more to the fore in this album is a sense of humour, which really adds to the usual mix and lifts some of the tracks to even greater heights, especially the somewhat pointed `everybody knows'. As well as the personal tales of love and loss there is also a sense of awareness and slight disgust with the world around him, made evident in the catchy but scathing opener `First we take Manhatten', an attack on the fashion industry.
Backing Cohen's singing is a very typically late eighties electro production. But it is tempered by Cohen's Spartan ethic, muting it's effect and allowing it to compliment him rather than overpower the record.
In tone and style it is quite different to Cohen's early output, but this is no bad thing. Life is about change and evolving, and Cohen's style has definitely evolved through the years, with each new album another step along his road of discovery. It is a journey without a destination, and we should be thankful for being allowed to follow. Some people dislike the change, but personally I think his albums are all the better for it - we'd have all got bored long ago if every album he ever made sounded just like the last one. For me this was a step along the road that worked well, and a classic album resulted.
It's a great record, and gets an unreserved five stars.