In the American musical mainstream of yesteryear, the hits of some bands enjoy far more name recognition than the bands themselves do – especially if these music acts only had two or three singles that cracked the Billboard Top 40 singles chart. One noteworthy example of a band that might have succumbed to this odd phenomenon is the criminally under-rated British pop duo Go West. In my humble opinion, an understanding of the band’s history and place in music is key to understanding the appeal and brilliance of the new album Seaglass by Go West frontman Peter Cox.

Frontman Peter Cox and Richard Drummie of Go West rose to prominence at the tail end of the New Wave era’s heyday. Their sound marked a stylistic deviation from that of their contemporaries. They opted for a nod to the musical heritage of America’s west coast (hence the name of the band). Despite making a splash in their home country with their fantastic eponymous debut album and winning the award for the “Best Newcomer” at the 1986 Brit Awards (the British equivalent of the Grammy Awards), it was not until the early 90s that they tasted true US chart success with the hit singles “King Of Wishful Thinking”, and “Faithful” from their third album “Indian Summer”. Thanks to its inclusion in the motion picture soundtrack of the hit movie “Pretty Woman” (starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere), “King Of Wishful Thinking” became the duo’s signature song in the US. After almost a decade of being part of a true songwriting democracy with Richard Drummie, Peter Cox’s solo career aspirations far eclipsed any desire to build on the momentum of “Indian Summer” as part of Go West. As a result, Chapter 1 of the Go West story ended. The duo reformed in the early 2000s as a touring entity and released the self-produced album “futurenow” in 2008. Despite strong tunes such as “Let Love Come” (a song we played a LOT on high-rotation on our 24/7 global online radio broadcast when it first released) and “All Day All Night”, they were unable to recreate the magic of the first chapter of their story. Some of this can be attributed to the bias of ageism that relegates new material of stars of yesteryear to obscurity. The second factor that I believe was at play here is the fact that “futurenow” was essentially viewed as being a litmus test of whether or not Go West still “had it”. As songwriters, Peter and Richard were still very much on solid ground – but their sound was missing one key and defining ingredient that was instrumental (no pun intended) in their initial success – and that ingredient was producer Gary Stevenson.

Gary was the sonic architect of the euphoric and ornate soundscape that Peter’s soulful vocals drifted in with relative ease on the duo’s first two albums.  Layered production and the effective use of brassy synths as musical punctuations and the wailing of the electric guitar (especially on “One Way Street” from the Sylvester Stallone movie “Rocky 4”) together made for a sound that felt cinematic. Gary’s reconnection with Peter (albeit not for the first time since Go West) for the album Seaglass was the first hint that Peter was going to radically change the narrative that his finest musical moments were in the glory years of Go West.

The second hint that Seaglass had serious commercial potential was the fact that it was being released on the roster of the record label Chrysalis Records. Those with any knowledge of Go West’s history will remember that Chrysalis Records is the label that laid the foundation for Go West’s initial success.

It is tempting for us to think that as an artist gets older, he gets mellower and that translates to musical output that is more downtempo – and can result in a “safe” MOR (middle of the road) album. The third hint that Seaglass was NOT going to be MOR was the album’s lead single and first true highlight “Too Far Gone” – an up-tempo song that has Peter channeling a young and dreamy-eyed romantic that cannot snap out of his obsession with the object of his affection. The lyrics are straightforward and relatable. They are a glimpse into a man that feels constrained by the distance that has been cemented between him and his lady.

Oddly enough, the album did not follow soon after. Peter Cox took a “rolling thunder” approach wherein he introduced two more singles over the span of a year in advance of the album’s release date. Each single packed a harder punch and went a long way in creating a sense of anticipation that was NOT rooted in nostalgia. Needless to say, in this case, the patience of fans was undoubtedly a virtue and is being richly rewarded.

Thematically speaking, the album is a mixed bag which sees Peter exploring the human experiences of regret in the light of missed opportunities, nagging feelings of unlived dreams, the need to triumph over our inner demons, and a sweet and altruistic extension of unconditional and platonic friendship on the album’s heartwarming closer “Confidant”. The album is split almost equally between up-tempo and downtempo tracks but it is the up-tempo tracks that have the greatest potential to be lodged in the minds of listeners. The brassy synths of the early years are back in full swing. There is a generous use of synthesizers. Unforgettable keyboard melodies act as connective tissues linking the various sections of each song. Almost every song has a goose-bump inducing electric guitar solo. Some of them would make for an appropriate sonic backdrop to Hollywood actor Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun” character Pete Mitchell “Maverick” riding off into the sunset on his motorbike. Peter’s voice is aging better than a bottle of fine wine. Apparently, four decades in the music business is not long enough to erode the man’s sonic mojo.

In addition to “Too Far Gone”, the album’s highlights are as follows:

“She Wants Magic”: This uptempo jam and the album’s second single is a glimpse into the thought process of a woman that is dissatisfied with the bland nature of her reality and the recognition that she is sitting on a pile of unfulfilled dreams and aspirations. “She is good, but good is not enough”. The fantastic electric guitar solo post the song’s Middle 8 leaves the listener wanting more. It is common for people to think that an artist releases his or her strongest track as the album’s lead single. That assumption was undoubtedly turned on its head with “She Wants Magic” – one of the finest pop singles of 2022 and our radio broadcast’s “Track of the month” in August 2022. It is also the album’s second best song.

“Things we never did”: Despite “She Wants Magic” being a huge step up from the album’s lead single “Too Far Gone”, it might have been unreasonable to think that it could be eclipsed by an even better song on the album. This radio-worthy uptempo track feels almost like a prophecy of the regret many people would have felt and of their cognizance of missed opportunities when their lives and everything they took for granted came to a grinding halt with the Covid19 pandemic. The following lines illustrate that feeling quite well:

We only get so many sunsets

We got all the time in the world till it’s gone

We will regret the moments we wasted

Watching the world go by

When it’s too late to cry

This song does retain some elements of what makes “She wants magic” great. Its beat and bassline propel the song forward in the same way that they do for “She Wants Magic”. In both songs, the percussion kicks into high gear with the second part of the song’s first verses.

It is a mystery as to why this was NOT released as the album’s third single. It is the crowning glory of Seaglass. My only guess is that Peter wanted to challenge the notion that the album’s finest had already seen the light of day in advance of its release – and wanted to save the best for last. If that was his goal, he most certainly succeeded.

Brave New World: This is the fastest-paced song on the album. The pace is appropriate for the sense of urgency that the song conveys. It delves into our collective ability to navigate the challenges of a world that is changing too fast for us to keep up with. Furthermore, learning the lessons of our past is critical but perhaps insufficient on its own. Peter calls for an awareness of the vulnerabilities of a society that only a “Brave New World” can adequately tackle.

“November”: This song represents a rare moment of production minimalism focusing the spotlight almost entirely on Peter Cox’s achingly beautiful voice. It is a piano-led ballad that paints a vivid picture of how the cold and wintry month of November accentuates feelings of loneliness. From a vocal perspective, Peter reaches his zenith on this song.

Artists that rose to prominence in yesteryear follow a rather predictable creative and commercial trajectory. On rare occasions, some of them experience a burst of inspiration and creative rejuvenation that translates to musical output that rivals their most celebrated material. “Seaglass”, a musical triumph and a fertile ground for radio fodder, just might be a noteworthy example of this rare deviation from the norm. I am sure there is a slice of fans that wish this was the album Go West had recorded when they first reformed in the early 2000s. Peter Cox is in top form on this album and has never sounded better. The album brims with soul, swagger, and sophistication.  Seaglass deserves attention from the musical mainstream. To ignore it would be to discount one of 2023’s pop music highs. Peter Cox’s creative well is far from dry and I sincerely hope that he digs deeper into this newfound inspiration which was clearly born during the Covid19 pandemic. I can barely wait for what he surprises us with next!

STAR RATING: 4 out of 5 stars


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