Rob Brunner
July 09, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

It’s been 13 years since Eurythmics’ mix of frosty pop and feisty posturing last hit the charts, and 10 years since Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were in the studio together. To note the obvious, the pop world has changed. A woman with an orange crew cut? Big deal. Stripped-down synth sounds? All over the radio. So when the reunited duo release Peace this fall, some former fans will inevitably just shrug. Can you blame them? Given the lukewarm results of other recent ’80s comebacks — that’s right, folks, there was a new Rick Springfield album this year — Eurythmics’ new disc might not exactly be the stuff of sweet dreams.

Don’t count on it. Since parting ways (”Eventually there’s a time in your life when you ask yourself, ‘What’s it like to do something else?”’ says Lennox), the duo have seen their solo careers blossom. Lennox shed her dominatrix-next-door image but maintained her mainstream appeal, releasing two acclaimed adult-pop albums in the ’90s, while Stewart has explored a plethora of pop media, including producing albums (for himself and such artists as Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan) and films (Deep Blues), writing music for movies, and running a record label. Factor in Eurythmics’ continued popularity — Marilyn Manson scored a hit with ”Sweet Dreams” four years ago and you still hear tunes like ”Here Comes the Rain Again” and ”Would I Lie to You” on the radio — and a reunion actually starts to seem like a pretty good idea.

”[Eurythmics] just came back in a natural way,” says Stewart, sitting with Lennox inside the Church, a converted North London chapel where for the past four months or so they have cloistered themselves to write and record Peace. ”We were asked to play at a friend’s [going away] party as a surprise. We thought it would be fun, sort of a shock.” The duo hooked up again in May 1998 to play at a charity event and yet again last February to receive a lifetime achievement prize at the Brit Awards. Pleased by the response, they agreed to record one new tune for a greatest-hits package. ”We ended up writing four or five songs in a few days,” says Stewart. ”Soon we realized it sounded like an album.”

Now nearly completed, Peace includes a Burt Bacharach-influenced track titled ”Lift It,” an atmospheric spiritual meditation called ”Peace Is Just Another Word,” and the first single, ”I Saved the World Today,” a sarcastic jab at naive idealism. But it’s the semiautobiographical ”Seventeen Again” that should draw the most attention. The song documents the perils of pop stardom (”fake celebrities,” ”stupid magazines,” etc.), climaxing with a line that might sound vaguely familiar: ”Sweet dreams are made of this…”

Sure, it’s smartly self-referential, but will it appeal to anyone who wasn’t 17 in ’83? Even Lennox isn’t sure: ”I can’t really envisage our audience,” she says. ”But then I never could. I’m always amazed that anyone turns up to anything, but that’s just the way I see life.” Naysayers should give Peace a chance, though. Think of the album as the inspired pairing of a talented singer and a top producer-songwriter, not as some cheap nostalgia trip. ”It’s probably the most natural recording and writing session that we’ve ever done,” insists Stewart. Would he lie to you, honey?

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