Five years after Britain’s synth-soul era of orchestrated productions over crisp electronic beats, Scotland’s Associates have ended a lengthy recording hiatus with a glossy, shallow album that sounds seriously out of step. Where most high-tech dance-pop now follows the soothing groove of Soul II Soul, the Associates — more precisely, singer-songwriter Billy Mackenzie plus a load of session players — cling to a dramatic delivery and chattering, generally overloaded arrangements.
Ignoring Mackenzie’s inability to handle the high notes in his sweeping romantic declarations, this classy anachronism is no worse than anything the genre originally produced. The modest, light-handed treatment of ”Calling All Around the World” reveals a timeless song in an appealing light, but otherwise Wild and Lonely is a bad memory. D+