10cc are just an absolutely maddening band: full of brilliant, path-breaking ideas (with a sense of humour!) but obsessed with making accessible pop music that I find extremely boring. I can honestly I’ve never encountered another band like them.
The album gets off to a bizarre start with an alternately funny and obnoxious suite stitched together as if we’re listening to Zappa. But this is much catchier than Zappa. I have to be honest: I would like this a lot more if it wasn’t so twee.
“I’m Not in Love” perhaps best encapsulates my problem with this band: I don’t like the song, I’ve never liked the song. It’s just insufferably ’70s MOR with no edge to the recording at all. But what they did to make it? It’s incredible. And the sound of those vocals has been imitated so many times since, it’s kind of incredible. It’s insane to me that this much thought and effort was put into creating pablum. Why?!?! To what fucking end?
“I’m Not in Love” by far the worst example and I like nearly everything else on the record more,. (I like the two hits the least. And, honestly, with more listens I might come to like “Life is a Minestrone” just as a little as “I’m Not in Love”.) But I still struggle with all of it simply because I don’t particularly like pop music and don’t find it interesting. And I just can’t help but struggle with a record where so much thought is put into…middle of the road ’70s pop. Why does this band exist? I’m so confused.
I must grant that these guys are extremely creative. And sometimes they are funny. But they just aren’t very interesting. They seem to be very interested in recording technology, and its potential, while also wanting to make extremely safe music. It’s something I cannot wrap my head around. But I cannot deny the album is…something.