Review – Teases & dares

On her 1982 debut album, England’s Kim Wilde may have threatened, with the boldness of a girl playing Pop Queen in her bedroom, to turn away in search of some teenage action. But since her dad, Marty, and her brother, Ricki, were writing and producing these scenarios of suburban adolescence, she always ended up coming home by eleven. With flashy, irresistible anthems like “Kids in America” and Kim’s chirpy, high-strung vocals, Kim Wilde was a commercial indulgence as pure as a skip through the shopping mall – cash- register rebellion in climate-controlled comfort.
It’s somewhat perverse for a girl’s father and brother to give her such randy numbers as Teases & Dares’ pulsing British hit “Go for it” to sing. Maybe the song would be less galling if the last record hadn’t already given us the feeling that the Wilde boys git their inspiration by peeking at Kim through a two-way mirror.
Anyway, their attempts to remake Kim into a sexy thrush fail; she’s too bland and docile a singerto generate much heat or to enliven Ricki’s stale wall-of-synths prduction. Kim is most convincing when she’s given the chance to portray what she knows best – schoolgirl restlessness on the incongruously hopping “Suburbs of Moscow”, and anxiety on the two songs she wrote herself “Fit in” (“I’m getting bored/Of the way they expect me to be”) and the sexually edgy “Shangri-la”. These songs have the passive, yearning tone of a jailhouse diary. Kim Wilde, like the best girl-group pop, hinted that its vivacious, earnest singer might be smart enough to cut loose her puppet strings. Most of Teases & Dares, however, represents the genre at its sourest, in which the girl becomes an accomplice to her own caging.