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Prefab Sprout: Let’s Change The World With Music

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The new Prefab Sprout album sounds stubbornly, gloriously out of step with the times, because it’s not “new” at all. After recording the classic Jordan: The Comeback in 1990, Prefab Sprout frontman Paddy McAloon demoed an ambitious concept album linking the history of the world, divine providence, and the healing power of music. The project went uncompleted—largely because the band’s label wasn’t interested—but with McAloon suffering some recent health woes, a concerned friend urged him to start emptying his vaults. And so: Let’s Change The World With Music, a record produced and performed in McAloon’s home studio almost 20 years ago (given a new mix by Calum Malcolm). Newcomers to Prefab Sprout may find it overwhelming; McAloon expresses fealty to music both as an abstract concept and as a specific transformative force in people’s lives, hailing gospel, Nile Rodgers, and “the unnerving, unswerving Irving Berlin.” The songs are more synth-heavy and beat-driven than usual, but still graced with McAloon’s angelic voice, puckish wit, and constantly evolving arrangements. Is the lush sound and painfully sincere sentiment a little over the top? Yes, of course—it’s Prefab Sprout. But when McAloon sings about how to lead a virtuous life on the thumping, joyous “Ride,” or sums up our existence on the lithe, jazzy “Earth, The Story So Far,” it’s easy to believe what he says of himself in “The Last Of The Great Romantics.” Out of touch? No, in command.