Arista Records, 1995
REVIEW BY: JB
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/25/1997
My brainmate in Algebra I, back in the US, is an unusually brilliant human being (especially in math). So when she said she couldn't get The Sign out of her head, I figured that it must be a pretty cerebrally compatible arrangement; when I actually got the CD, I couldn't quite understand how something so simple could occupy something so complex.
Although it was laden with air-headed lyrics, the sound was "different" (therefore, "fresh") from the other albums that were released that year. Although it faired pretty well, they ultimately were overplayed to death and were basically the history before the Spice Girls repeated it.
The Bridge destroys what originality Ace of Base had before by overproducing, underemoting, and just plain bandwagoning. The structure is mysteriously complete and perfectly cohesive as their voices (the latter coming from the fact that they're sibs excluding one Ace), mysterious because The Bridge is a group of solo projects rolled into one. They do come together in some group tracks, but this new experimenting is also interesting for it gives a chance to see them as individual artists.
Aside from the last breath of the good old days from "Never Gonna Say I'm Sorry" featuring the drum arrangement from "All That She Wants", the album is a confusing mix of samples, samples, and more minor chords than "The Phantom Of The Opera". "Edge of Heaven" drips with ambition, but falls halfway; the imagery can almost be grasped if the words were more poetic (an example of how vital lyrics are in a song). "My Deja Vu" ... what IS this? It doesn't sound like one long chorus like Joker (the songwriter) says it does in the liner notes; and Linn and Jenny can sing better than that. One wonders why they sound so tired.
The album isn't totally without its brightspots. "Angel Eyes" is a milestone in Ace Of Base's career. The song is a ballad done in traditional chords, a grateful lack of samples, and the best group vocal performance on the entire album. Linn as a songwriter brings up some genuine sensuality in "Whispers In Blindness" with an accompanying performance that doesn't mimic Madonna. "Blooming 18" is the better part of the new Ace of Base thanks to its lyrics and group vocals.
But the most impressive effort on the album are certain two efforts (out of three) by Jenny (the brunette). Sparks of songwriting brilliance appear in "Ravine" and undisputably the best track on the album, "Experience Pearls". Her imaging is strong and her delivery is dedicated. Previously overshadowed by the writing of the two male members and the vocal beauty of Linn, Jenny steps into artistic validity with her successful experiments which could only improve the band.
The power of Ace of Base ultimately lies in its group tracks. When they all come together in one track, be it ironic uptempo ("Que Sera") or techno ballad ("Angel Eyes"), they simply sound better. So while this was passably entertaining, they've got nothing left to prove; let's leave our egos in the closet and nail it.