ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Distinctly Fishy

Hes moody and magnificently detailed. Hes short of tunes.

Human Being

WARNER BROS 9362 46828

With just three albums in eight years you could hardly accuse Seal of knocking them out. Still, hes established his own identity with that affecting, melancholic voice, his questing lyrics and a certain tunefulness. The first two qualities are fully intact here but the third, increasingly elusive since that magnificent debut, is all but absent. Which not to say this clutch of troubled love songs and insecurity is bad: its just not very involving.

Apart from the opening Human Beings—a grand, orchestral number—and the teasingly ambiguous Latest (raze, the tempo never rises above medium-paced, and the tunes grow increasingly slight. In fact, strip away the arrangements and Trevor Horns magnificent, detailed production and youre not left with a lot: some nice musical touches (guests include Wendy & Lisa, William Orbit and Simply Reds Heitor Pereira), some thoughtful lyrics and a vague memory of moody musings. Okay, so its not pop, but theres little he hasnt done better already, and with Lighthouse Familys Tunde Bayieuw having moved in on non-macho male intimacy, Seal may find the world has learned to live with his absence. ☆☆

Ian Cranna