Mike + the Mechanics, Living Years

I couldn't bear to listen to this album anymore when my father was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, but when COVID-19 finally killed him in whatever wave this benighted country is on now I decided it was time to dust it off again. To be sure, my relationship with my dad was evidently better than Mike Rutherford's in the title track, though I'd have liked a few more living years to tell him I loved him too. Still, other than that and the single "Nobody's Perfect," this record still comes off on balance to me as too slickly hollow. Much like the singer's smashed avo worldview in "Seeing is Believing" or the airbrushed Horatio Alger type of "Poor Boy Down" or even the unsubtle anti-war anthems of "Blame" and "Why Me?", it's all so machined and polished down that everything gets melted together and the whole thing feels unreal (the simplistic lyrics and 1980s-heavy synthorock don't help). The first two tracks brought tears to my eyes and "Beautiful Day" is largely a solid cut from the album's remaining morass, but overall writing this review turned out to be more therapeutic than the record itself. I just wish I could hug you one more time, Dad. I really do. (Content: no concerns.)