Bee Gees Show Just a Glimmer of Old Magic

Whoever called the Bee Gees' hit songs a "guilty pleasure" had an overdeveloped conscience. At its commercial and artistic peak in the late '70s, the Australian trio released singles that were sheer pop genius, full of gorgeous hooks and buoyant, shimmering arrangements that only a tone-deaf curmudgeon could resist. But like the skin-tight polyester suits they once flaunted, the Brothers Gibb seem to have lost some cling and zing through the years. Their latest album is a decidedly stodgy, middle-of-the-road affair, with a deficit of strong melodies and a surplus of the sort of tepid, synth-numbed production that gives adult-contemporary music a bad name.

Occasionally the group does show glimmers of its old magic. "I Surrender" is an inviting slice of breathy, blue-eyed funk that reminds us whom George Michael learned some of his tricks from, and "Closer Than Close" pulsates with a gently seductive energy. More often than not, though, these three tenors sound listless and uninspired. There's a difference between stayin' alive and merely registering a heartbeat, and at this point, the Bee Gees' vital signs aren't what they used to be.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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