Rouse uses the sonic textures of the year of his birth as the basis for 1972. Specifically, he doesn’t draw so much on the fringe genres such as Black Sabbath’s heavy metal or Yes’ symphonic progressive rock, but on the mainstream soft rock that dominated AM radio, such as Carole King, The Carpenters, and Bread, as well as touches of soul like Curtis Mayfield. There are touches such as prominent flute leads and cheesy guitar breaks. But despite the seventies façade, there’s some flat out brilliant material here, and the likes of ‘Come Back (Light Therapy’ and ‘James’ are wonderful songs no matter which way they’re dressed up.
It takes a few listens to realise that ‘Come Back (Light Therapy)’ isn’t a simple boy/girl song, instead a love song addressed to the sun (“I miss my serotonin” is the opening line to the fabulous bridge), and it’s stuffed with hooks, with a super infectious bass line, punchy horns, and melodic flute fills in the bridge. ‘James’ utilises Rouse’s effective falsetto, while ‘Love Vibration’ is an infectious, unbridled slice of joy. The record does become more serious towards the end – ‘Under Your Charms’ is a gorgeous reconciliation of sexual attraction with love, while ‘Sparrows Over Birmingham’ and the beautiful ‘Rise’ almost take on spiritual tones. With the deliberately cheesy arrangements, 1972 can become irritating when the material is a little substandard, and the more straightforward pop of ‘Sunshine (Come On Lady)’ and ‘Slaveship’ are the two least effective songs on the disc.
Nevertheless 1972 is a successfully light-hearted, pop-oriented disc, from an artist who’d largely dealt in serious, introverted material up to this point.