Good Stevie Wonder does nothing for me. Middling Stevie Wonder does less for me. It’s hard for me to even care enough about this record, which doesn’t have any of his biggest hits on it, and which fails to move me, like all of his records. But I guess I have to try. (That’s what nobody pays me for.)
The big virtue of Wonder’s biggest hits is how catchy they are. (Well, at least that’s one of their biggest virtues.) And I find myself listening to this record and just not remembering the songs afterwards. Like just not remembering them at all. I was going to start writing this review before I started listening for the third time and I couldn’t remember any of the songs. That’s certainly true of plenty of records I’ve only listened to twice, but catchiness is one of Wonder’s strengths.
As usual, I don’t like the arrangements. They are busy, they are funky enough for my parents but are not really funky in the way I expect ’70s funk to be. He sort of commits to something half way between funk and soul on the funkier tracks, and that just doesn’t work for me. It works less well when I can’t remember the songs.
And of course this is slick as can be. That’s his hallmark – everything is polished, but not in the Philly Soul kind of way but in a more “modern” way, where everything is more robotic and mechanical rather than syrupy. It has never worked for me. It works less well when I can’t remember the songs.
Everything about this record is competent: his songs are fine – in as much as I don’t notice them being mediocre – and he’s obviously incredibly talented given his ability to pull off the one man band thing. But I just don’t care. (Yet again.)