Swing Out Sister is one of the most successful bands of the past 20 years…in Japan. The trio-turned-duo (founding member Martin Jackson left the group in the late ‘80s) hasn’t scored a smash hit in the U.S. since 1987’s “Breakout,” but they’ve managed to accrue a cultish following around the world. Their first U.S. release in seven years, Where Our Love Grows, continues vocalist Corinne Drewery, keyboardist Andy Connell, and longtime producer/collaborator Paul Staveley O’Duffy’s “sophisti-pop” blend of shuffling Latin rhythms, ‘60s pop melodies, and orchestral arrangements reminiscent of Burt Bacharach and John Barry. The album’s most successful moments come when the retro is merged with the nouveau: the sweetly nostalgic “When The Laughter Is Over,” which mixes samples, dub-style delay with live strings and drums, and the melancholy ballad “From My Window.” Though instrumental tunes like the Brazilian-flavored “Caipirinha” threaten to push Where Our Love Grows into icky Euro-lounge-comp territory, the bulk of the album’s melodies are so instantly memorable that by the time the a cappella reprise of the title track and a comparatively drab remix of “Love Won’t Let You Down” come around, they begin to sound like old classics. There’s no doubt that this is unabashedly middle-of-the-road pop music for love boats and supermarkets, but it’s more D’Agostino’s than Pathmark. Where Our Love Grows is unlikely to score Swing Out Sister another Top 10 single in the U.S., but it will undoubtedly bolster their status as a cult coffeehouse favorite.
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