MCA MCAD-6365 (AAD) 1990 (90)
Disc time: 47:54
Edward Murray (6/90)
Danny Elfman's whimsical LA band Oingo Boingo has never received the recognition it deserves. Neither has Elfman for that matter, regardless of the fact that he is one of the most talented and innovative modern-day composers/musicians to work within the pop idiom. His gutsy, percussive music just doesn't seem to click with the masses
This isn't unusual. In a business where the truly mediocre always seem to rise to the top, where can a group of eight talented musicians making quality music possibly fit in? How can horns, xylophone, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, intelligent lyrics, great vocals, and sincerity replace hair spray, Spandex, and a well-rehersed look of alienation and coolness? Maybe the fact that Oingo Boingo actually enjoys the music it makes--audience or no audience--and conveys that on album after album is what makes the group so good, and so misunderstood.
Dark at the End of the Tunnel is Oingo Boingo's eighth album, and it's an unqualified winner. Elfman's arrangements have never been better. From the horn-laced, ominous sounds of "When the Lights Go Out" to the big rock feel of "Long Breakdown" and the instant danceability of "Run Away (The Escape Song)", the sound is splendorous. Deep and groovy lows balance the crisp, but never overly bright, high end. The musicianship sparkles on every cut, particularly the guitar and horns, and repeated listening reveals something new each time. Maybe Oingo boingo will never have much more than just a loyal cult following, but for those of us in the know, this will be enough.