On his 21st century studio albums, it feels like Gabriel’s allowed his perfectionist tendencies overwhelm him – the title Up was announced in 1998, but the album didn’t emerge until four years later, ten years after Us. The material was obsessively reworked and selected from 150 songs that Gabriel had in various stages of recording. While the album shows plenty of craftsmanship, it’s essentially a bunch of seven minute songs that often outstay their welcome, and it can be hard to sit through in its entirety.
The first two songs are strong – ‘Darkness’ explodes out of the speakers full of foreboding and atmosphere, while ‘Growing Up’ is the most accessible pop song, with its “my ghost likes to travel” hook. Up also ends strongly; ‘Signal To Noise’ is the most ambitious piece with its chanting (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was overdubbed posthumously) while the brief ‘The Drop’ is a pretty solo piano piece that closes proceedings nicely. In between, there’s a single that felt dated on arrival with the ‘The Barry Williams Show’ and a smattering of moody pieces.
Up is painstaking, and it certainly has its merits – butyou need to be a dedicated Peter Gabriel fan to enjoy it.