Roger Waters, Radio KAOS

In his continued multi-album rant against Thatcherism, he decided to transplant the next concept album to Southern California mostly to get some digs in on Reagan. If that were the extent of his efforts, that would have been fine and even expected from the man who rendered us The Final Cut. But his libretti still need work, because why would his chosen vessel for "all those who find themselves at the violent end of monetarism" be a twentysomething disabled Welshman tinkering with cordless phones and speaking like Stephen Hawking on the radio? The music isn't terrible even if the production's a trifle overwrought, "Radio Waves" is a fun little opener which Waters' hoarse vocals kind of make charming, and while "Sunset Strip" is a tad too transparent as an L. A. radio pastiche, for being hip enough to sample-check KMET it's not that far off the mark. Likewise, "The Tide Is Turning" (allegedly demanded by Columbia because "Four Minutes"' nuclear climax was too bleak) has that great combination of maudlin and meaning to be an instant pop anthem. Too bad about the rest of it, then, because the effort demanded from the listener is just too great. How does the everyman identify with a figure like this? You don't understand where he's coming from, why he does what he does and why this means everything's got to change. More critically, the album doesn't just need you to put the story together: you have to actually care about the protagonist too, and really nothing about this record causes me to do that. (Content: no concerns.)