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ALBUM REVIEW

That '70s sound: It's back

April 09, 2003|Natalie Nichols

Fleetwood Mac

"Say You Will" (Reprise)

** 1/2

Fleetwood Mac is back, and not just via the Dixie Chicks' hit rendition of "Landslide." Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie convene here (without Christine McVie) for the first time since 1987's "Tango in the Night." And such slick new numbers as the wheezily rollicking single "Peacekeeper" comfortably recall such late-'70s Mac classics as "Dreams" and "Go Your Own Way."

The players incorporate some unobtrusive contemporary touches into their familiar, meandering-to-propulsive blend of staccato folk-pop and sprawling soft rock. Despite the catchy melodies, those old hits oozed emotional tension and regret; but nothing here is as maddeningly unforgettable as the vintage stuff.

As usual, Buckingham's more grounded romanticism and folksy topicality balance Nicks' gossamer-maelstrom emotionality. But his social commentary never probes too deeply, perfectly matching the music's breezy bombast. Still, his sardonic blues-rocker "Come" has a satisfyingly bitter kick.

"Say You Will" does reflect the sense of questioning, melancholy, even bitterness so prevalent today, but it's overlong and often feels too glib. It does prove timeless in one respect, as Nicks' mystery-shrouded "Silver Girl" shows she can still write pulsing anthems for dreamy teenage girls.

Natalie Nichols

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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