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Sunday, May 9, 1999 Published at 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK

Entertainment: New Music Releases

CD Review: Texas

Texas: The Hush (Mercury)

By the BBC's Chris Charles

Picture the state of Texas, stetsons and rednecks apart, the words huge, plain and uninspiring spring to mind.

Picture the pop group Texas and the words huge, plain and, well, you get the drift.

It is one of life's great mysteries as to how this band managed to become quite so big.

After the top 10 success of I Don't Want A Lover back in 1989, they faded into obscurity, with their next five releases charting at 60, 44, 73, 66 and 74 and that, one assumed, would be that.

[ image: Sharleen Spiteri: Sounding like Chrissie Hynde]
Sharleen Spiteri: Sounding like Chrissie Hynde
Then, as if by magic, the comeback single appeared, White On Blonde shifted copies like it was going out of fashion and Texas were embraced back into the arms of popular music.

The Hush, their fifth album, will undoubtedly be a huge success and sell millions of copies as the blind faithful excitedly flock to their local Woolworths like lemmings heading for the cliff.

But, sadly, it does nothing to suggest that they will ever veer from that safe, middle-of-the-road blueprint that your mum and out-of-touch big sister so happily approve of.

Sad because Sharleen Spiteri has a fine voice that, with a little more imagination and daring from her bandmates, could be the focal point of something special.

That said, you cannot blame them for sticking with a winning formula, even if it should come with a free sticker warning: 'for use at coffee mornings and corporate dinner parties only'.

If anything, Hush is even less adventurous than its predecessor - which at least spawned - dare I say it - the half-decent Black-eyed Boy.

Current single In Our Lifetime (or TLC meets Hong Kong Garden) is the most catchy track on the album and the song that will surely propel it to number one before the remaining 11 have even had an airing.

Flick to the dark, church bell-filled Summer Son and you hear the Pet Shop Boys and Abba, or if you prefer a bit of 90s Motown, check out When We Are Together and Day After Day.

On Saint, Sharleen sounds more like Chrissie Hynde than Chrissie Hynde, on Tell Me The Answer she attends the Marcella Detroit falsetto finishing school and most of the rest passes you by.

The production throughout is so clinical you could be forgiven for thinking it was the work of a consultant surgeon.

The one decent track, the instrumental Zero Zero is restricted to 1 min 43 seconds when it surely should have been allowed to expand into a sprawling epic.

The only hope for Texas is that once the handsome profits from this album have been banked, they decide to throw caution to the wind and make a record that does not bow to the expectations of the masses and instead exaggerates the potential that lurks beneath the surface.

Until then, it's business as usual. Oh well.

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