Bill Wyman
September 25, 1992 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Free-for-All

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Michael Penn
Producers
RCA
genre
Pop, Rock

We gave it a B+

Michael Penn’s second album continues the promise of this kinder, gentler, more musical Penn, who’s the brother of bad-boy actor Sean. There’s no out-of-left-field tour de force like his ”March”’s ”No Myth,” the fluke MTV hit with the ”What if I were Romeo in black jeans?” chorus. But the album is full of the courtly ”Eleanor Rigby” sort of pop that made March such a charmer. Penn shows himself a strong songwriter, if an overly intellectual one. Some songs are simply too self-conscious, and their studiousness doesn’t seem faithful to Free-for-All‘s blithe title. But the album is chockablock with melodies and neat instrumental touches — and when’s the last time you got an album that was too brainy? B+

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