Blue Cartoon Downtown Shangri-La (Aardvark)
Downtown Shangri-La (Aardvark)
Reviewed by Ken Lieck, Fri., Oct. 29, 1999
Downtown Shangri-La (Aardvark)If ever an album cover was designed to attract a target audience, Downtown Shangri-La has one: the gorgeous painting looks for all the world as though the band stole it from the poor artist when he was en route to Justin Hayward's house with it. As far as the music, Blue Cartoon have definitely moved away from the sameness that marred their debut (with three songwriters in the band, variety should be easy), but have also dropped popmeister Ron Flynt's knob-work, to good and bad ends. Nowhere on this album of lush pop is there quite the soaring majesty Flynt brought, yet for every sound that comes through somewhat less than inspired, there's the odd trill or effect that might have not made it into a more polished affair. And with Blue Cartoon, it's all in the details. Songs that start off as indistinguishable Journey-man MOR affairs find their identities in a nice little riff in the chorus, or a particularly swell CSN-type harmony. Bits of Lennon/McCartney or Boyce & Hart are invoked here and there, and more often the lyrics are above average, especially in the more somber numbers like "Lorissa," "She's Gone," and the clever "Indigone" ("Indigo, Indigoing, Indigone"). Toward the end, there's even a real rocker in "Only Me Only You." Now, if Blue Cartoon can combine the sound of album one with the songs of album two, album three will rate even higher.