Fleetwood Mac, Mirage

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 09.12.11 in Reviews


Fleetwood Mac
Lighter and more ordinary

1982′s Mirage is as much a response to the inevitable drop-off in sales for 1979′s Tusk as the daredevil art of that album was a reaction to Rumours‘ astronomical success. It continues in the Brill Building vein of Lindsey Buckingham’s then-recent solo disc Law and Order; his “Oh Diane” could’ve begun as an outtake from that album, and even Stevie Nicks’s “That’s Alright” sports a retro country vibe. But beyond the hits “Hold Me” and “Gypsy,” the songwriting isn’t as impactful as Mac’s mid-to-late ’70s output, and the arrangements are similarly restrained. Ordinarily far more driving than the soft-rock norm, the John McVie/Mick Fleetwood rhythm section here dials down the band’s R&B foundation – the one constant in its many permutations – on several tracks. Fortunately it’s still there in Nicks’s “Straight Back” and in Buckingham’s “Eyes of the World,” and it helps the lesser material gain traction. “Empire State” is a welcome Tusk throwback and a continuing New Wave acknowledgement. But elsewhere there’s the strong suggestion that Buckingham is withholding both his studio magic and his ability to twist West Coast adult pop conventions into something intrinsic to this unusual band’s idiosyncratic chemistry. Mirage‘s best still works, but the rest is lighter and more ordinary.