Don't listen to those who dismiss this record as a dark, bleak, un-pop-friendly departure from their previous work. Legend has it that their record company, WEA, wanted accessible pop tunes, and the Sound responded to the pressure with "All Fall Down." Offended, WEA sent the band packing, while the record was said to have polarized even the most hardcore Sound fans. While there's nothing here that would've really troubled the top 40 charts, there's also little to suggest that this is anything but the next logical progression from their second record, the stunning post-punk classic "From the Lion's Mouth." "All Fall Down" is a bit more challenging in some ways, but the handful of such moments are balanced by several musically upbeat, poppy, melodic songs. This just isn't the challenging, cold slab of bleakness that most critics would have you believe.
The poppier element here is best exemplified by "Calling the New Tune" and "Party of the Mind," two upbeat, hooky songs, while "We Could Go Far" ends on a beautifully melancholy note with chiming, melodic guitars and soothing synths. Others, like the dissonant "Glass and Smoke" and the title track, hint at the kind of darkness critics often point to, but those are only the darker numbers that are part of a much more varied whole. "In Suspence" and "Red Paint" straddle the line between pop and bleakness quite effectively. "Monument", on the other hand, is one of the most accessible songs of their career.
Ultimately, while this album offers a more texturally lush and atmospheric sound than its predecessor, song for song it's not as consistent. But if you like the Sound, there's absolutely no reason not to buy this. It's not their best effort, but it still provides an engrossing listen.