A & M
Sting has spent his last few releases wrestling with his back-catalogue, re-arranging it, repositioning it and then through that he’s emerged to write new material that sounds like echoes of his past. He’s caught in a loop of celebrating himself and the results here in particular, show a man with not much to say, but so many ways to say it.
Opener, Rushing Water, bursts from the gates like it’s on the run from, well, The Police.
Captain Bateman reminds us of the great trilogy of records Sting made in the 90s (The Soul Cages, Ten Summoner’s Tales, Mercury Falling) but there’s no real, um, sting. It’s all genteel (The Bells of St. Thomas) and slightly bored. It’s all polite (If It’s Love) and correct (Harmony Road). And very by the numbers (The Book of Numbers).
Yes, he still sings on the sexy side of laryngitis, yes he still finds a wee hook into a song and has impeccable pop elder statesman credentials.
But none of it matters. And it all feels ridiculously out of date.
This record holds its own hand (Waters of Tyne) and only threatens to get a little Drunk Uncle jazzy right near the end (Captain Bateman’s Basement). And then there’s the title track – for a bit of trademark pretentiousness. But a superfluous cover of (Sittin’ On) The Dock of The Bay is really a sad and lazy way to end this. Such a mixed bad. It’s like he has all the elements minus the fire.