Timelessness or extemporaneity? Classicism or anachronism? You will excuse the Socratic tone of this beginning of criticism, but it is impossible for me not to consider the dilemma when faced with what is the first album by Peter Gabriel in the last twenty-one years, the tenth of his career, conceived – that’s nothing – since some first sketches in 1995. It goes back a long time. I’m not going to resort to the idea that time is an implacable judge, because I don’t think any fan will be disappointed after immersing themselves in these twelve songs that last a long hour (there are twenty-four in two hours and seventeen minutes in their double version: the first album has the mixes Mark “Spike” Stentthe “Bright-Side Mix”, and the second those of Tchad Blake, the “Dark-Side Mix”, with very subtle differences), nor that anyone was waiting at this point for a bold reinvention of its formula. No. They repeat their usual faithful, of course: David Rhodes to the guitars, Tony Levin to the bass and Manu Katché to the battery.
As was known from the monthly drip of each of these cuts since last January, coinciding with each night of the new moon (he insisted a lot, with reason, that the album had to be understood once each and every one of them were revealed). of his pieces), we are faced with a new portion of solvent and elegant art rock without any qualms about seasonal fashions or wardrobe renovations. With its moments of contention and other more unleashed ones in the form of embracing a commerciality that merges with AOR, in tune with the transcendence that its texts evoke: the interconnection between peers, the passage of time, the risk of collectively self-immolation by ignoring the climate emergency. Both the tone and the background remind me, in moments like the title track, of the epic of recent Arcade Fireprecisely one of the few bands of the 21st century that Gabriel covered in “Scratch My Back” (10). That pulse explodes into a melody that, like “Olive Tree,” could almost bear the signature of Phil Collins. Tricky terrain.
There are many more things, of course. And also different, luckily. The exuberant percussion of “The Court”, between tribal and funk, the balance between acoustic guitars and electronic bases of the mournful “Panopticom”, the funk of “Road To Joy” (with Brian Eno), which is so reminiscent of his hits from the mid-eighties, the almost gospel breath of the beautiful ending that is “Live And Let Live” and – above all – the intimacy of “So Much” and “Playing For Time”, both with prominence of the piano, two splendid pieces that can be especially seductive for those who do not agree with its more ostentatious appearance. It’s just Peter Gabriel being true to himself. At least to the most standard version of him, at seventy-three years old. Nothing else could be expected.