Lou Reed: Set the Twilight Reeling Warner Bros WE 833

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Lou Reed, by comparison, has lost neither voice nor eyesight, just direction. Magic and Loss (1992) was one of the pinnacles of his career, a multi-faceted meditation upon the deaths of many friends which managed to be simultaneously serious, sober and sly. Set the Twilight Reeling could be by another artist, so enormous is the gulf between the two records.

It's all Lou's fault, too. Besides writing the largely negligible material, he employs the most spartan of bands - just drums, bass, and himself on guitar - and produces the album in a thin, measly manner which does none of the songs any favours at all. But then how would you go about making silk purses out of songs like "Hooky Wooky", in which Reed resists the urge to throw an ex-lover's new beau off a roof, or the infantile "Sex with Your Parents (Motherfucker)", which catches him contemplating the most horrible thing he might have to do, "something more disgusting than Robert Dole"? If that's Lou's idea of political satire, "Egg Cream" presumably represents his idea of nostalgia, using the eponymous chocolate beverage as stimulus for some less-than-Proustian reflections on his youth.

The half-hearted love songs that bulk out the album, such as "The Proposition" and the title-track - one a low-key statement of affection about as emotional as a spread sheet, the other a ponderous poeticisation of desire - hardly help matters, either. In every respect, it's an album lacking energy and engagement, fatally fascinated with its own navel-fluff and hidebound by the parochialism of its Big Applecentric view of the universe.