Mellowing out hasn’t done much for Sting’s music.
Back when he was a conceited, human rights savior, Sting crafted some interesting material. Listeners could forgive the Artist formerly Known as Gordon Sumner for his sense of self-importance — just as long as he continued producing great pop music.
At the turn of the 1990s, that all changed.
Sting locked into a holding pattern — recording albums with his same touring band and his producer from the Police days, Hugh Pagdham. His music has since then been just as predictable.
Nowadays, the question to ask about Sting’s albums isn’t whether they’re any good, but how badly they don’t suck.
Brand New Day actually ranks up there with Ten Summoner’s Tales, the only Sting album recorded in the 1990s with a decent program of songs.
Sting doesn’t indulge in his usual bag of clever tricks — shifting meters, spliced genres — and in fact, quite a few tracks feature rather memorable hooks. “Desert Rose” is quite a keeper, and the chorus “After the Rain Has Fallen” stays in your head.
Even when Sting does get smart, it’s not as forced as before. The hip-hop break in “Perfect Love … Gone Wrong” isn’t out of place.
That doesn’t mean the album doesn’t have its share of filler. “Tommorow We’ll See,” although not entirely memorable, is still good for its subject matter. I don’t understand how the title track became the first single, however.
(Note to Sting: ditch country if you can’t get Lucinda Williams or Emmylou Harris to steer you in the right direction.)
So does Brand New Day suck? No. It actually doesn’t.