Oingo Boingo, Dark At The End Of The Tunnel

This is another of my road albums, usually for late night driving in the California desert when the only things to keep me company are tumbleweeds and Coast to Coast AM. I suspect this was about when Danny Elfman was starting to notice his hearing was going (and his appetite for high energy mischief with it) given how sedate in general it is compared to their prior albums. There are touches of the old brass-heavy moments in tracks like the opener "When The Lights Go Out" and "Flesh 'N Blood," which could have come off Dead Man's Party if it were about double the tempo, but this outing's overall feel is more congruent with the balladic and longer groove styles of "Skin," "Out of Control" and the bittersweetly lyric "Is This." Indeed, it's those more anodyne hooks and smoother jams that make this a better driving album while at the same time coming off as somewhat less sophisticated; the rhythm sections almost piece together too well in their homology, a strange observation to make about a composer as prolific as Elfman. While I was less enamoured of tracks like "Glory Be," "Dream Somehow" and "Long Breakdown" largely for relative want of distinction, they still flow as well as the others, and I'm not really reaching for the skip button much when they're up. The LP omits "Right To Know," a rather well-realized bunch of meditations on afterlife's uncertainties, but the album's closer "Try To Believe" has a strange but welcome gospel feel, touches of zydeco, fuller brass and a hopeful, aspirational air. I'm not sure who Elfman was singing it to (himself?) and I'm not sure how much of a light at the tunnel it ends up being (the title on the spine notwithstanding), but the album is more idealistic than it pretends to be even if the craftmanship doesn't quite get there, and that song's always a nice one to arrive to. (Content: no concerns.)