Christine McVie: In The Meantime
Sound/Style: Watery, vanilla pudding pop
By Steve Morley
(UMCom) -- As part of the most successful incarnation of the revolving-door British band Fleetwood Mac, Christine McVie provided the ‘70s and ‘80s with some of those decades’ most memorable pop songs. Sandwiched between the adenoidal and sometimes histrionic vocals of Lindsay Buckingham and the witchy warble of bescarved diva Stevie Nicks, McVie’s warm, fluid alto voice was by far the most welcoming and her persona seemingly the most level-headed of the drug-addled, mega-star quintet. It came as no real surprise, then, that McVie was the only principal member of the band to eventually put major distance between her and the Los Angeles glitterati surrounding the rock lifestyle. She moved to the English countryside a decade ago and declined recent offers to reunite with the now-touring Mac.
In 1984, though then still associated with the platinum-selling act, she released an eponymously-titled solo record that spawned two successful singles and proved she could deliver outside the machine that was Fleetwood Mac. Based on that album in particular and her established hitmaking history with Mac, high expectations were not out of order when it was announced that McVie would be issuing a new solo album, her first in 20 years. The speculation could be downright tantalizing – what had the honey-voiced songstress been whipping up out there in jolly old England? The answer to that question, regrettably, is more than mildly disappointing. In The Meantime is a collection of mostly bland and characterless pop fodder that ventures thimble-deep into issues of bad love, casual love and not-so-bad love, not necessarily in that order.
While no one can be faulted for favoring a cozy family affair, it may have been to the famous singer’s detriment to enlist her nephew Dan Perfect as guitarist, co-writer and co-producer. Talented but untested in the major marketplace, Perfect probably would have made a better supporter and sounding board than a full-fledged collaborator. Could he – at the outset of his first big break – be trusted to say, “um, Auntie Chris, that take seemed a little weak”? Perhaps, but it’s not likely he, as the album’s co-writer, would be as objective as Lindsay Buckingham, who could’ve made these songs sound better but would probably have sent them back to the drawing board. With threadbare melodies and embarrassingly trite lyrics – “everything was looking good, just like it should/I trusted you with all my heart/never dreamed you’d tear it apart” – these tracks would, frankly, be unlikely to make it into the bins of major music chains without the established McVie name on the cover.
The opening cut, “Friend,” borrows heavily from the feel of “You Make Lovin’ Fun” but, like most of the other songs, never achieves cruising altitude. She pops the perky-sounding bubble of “Sweet Revenge” with the wince-provoking opening lines, “like a gun in your back, like a stab in the dark, this sure isn’t Cupid’s dart.” Similarly, In The Meantime sure isn’t the Christine McVie with whom a couple generations of music lovers were justifiably smitten. This time, the better advice might be do stop thinkin’ about tomorrow.
Steve Morley is a freelance music journalist living in College Grove, Tenn.
This review was developed by UMC.org, the official online ministry of the United Methodist Church.