Date: 1 January 1988
Originally published in: Sounds (UK)
Ask anyone for their thoughts on Kim Wilde and the response, while likely to make references to her talent for wearing blonde hair and expressing a pair of sky blue eyes, will probably draw a heavy veil over her musical contribution to survival in the late 20th Century. I am not immune myself and openly confess to keeping a small black and white image of the woman somewhere dark and moist – in my briefcase next to the cucumber sandwiches.
Her excursions onto vinyl, however, remain easier to leave than take and ‘Close’ regrettably doesn’t change a thing. As ever, it’s something of a family affair, brother Ricki sharing most of the writing duties as well as splitting the production chores with Tony Swain. Dad, dear Marty, still can’t resist putting his oar in either, although how it takes all three of them to come up with something as instantly resistible as ‘Love In The Natural Way’ begs the question. As, for that matter, does the title!
It’s a pure pop album with no pretensions to being anything other than that. Unfortunately, when judged byeven those simple terms and set against brand leaders like Pet Shop Boys and Belinda Carlisle, it sounds tame and tired.
Kim sings with a diligence and complete lack of invention in that near-to-tears way of hers, which is alarmingly exposed on the gushing ballad ‘Four Letter Word’. This song bears the hallmarks of having been discarded by Sheena Easton while clearing her wardrobe of Crimplene jumpsuits. Rather happier are the bubbling uptempo Euro tub-thumpers ‘You Came’, ‘Never Trust A Stranger’ and ‘Stone’, all of which offer semblances of tunes as well as that gigantic metronomic grape-crushing beat that is positively de rigeur in places where they put too much garlic in their food.
Kim Wilde craves respectability and recognition for something other than the way she looks. But while her strings are being tugged from within the family circle, she’s doomed to play the reluctant puppet and make records like this.