Album: Cher

Living Proof, WEA
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The Independent Culture

There's a subtle degree of difference between not wanting to change a winning formula and having too much of a good thing, and on Living Proof Cher grasps the former with such typical ebullience that she can't help but plough gaily into the latter. And though it would be absurd to expect her to abandon the vocoder gimmick that brought such success with "Believe", the abandon with which it's lathered all over "The Music's No Good Without You" and other tracks seriously overplays a device whose effect is dependent on its novelty: the more that that quivering android elision creeps in, the less interested one becomes. The irony, of course, is that unlike others who have used the device, she has no noticeable vocal imperfections to disguise, being one of the more reliable of rock divas, still able to trowel on the distress without missing a note or fluffing a phrase. The emotional pitch of songs such as "Alive Again" and "(This Is) A Song for the Lonely" is wound up to such hyperbolic intensity it sails right off the scale of normal response, into the absurd arena of camp. Hence, perhaps, her popularity with gay men, whose patronage is again courted shamelessly through the hustling disco beats and pumping synths. It's ultimately rather wearying, and there's an unresolved tension between the songs and the machine riffs, best summed up by "A Different Kind of Love Song", which is only different in that it resembles a proper song, but only superficially.