If you thought that Prefab Sprout’s 1980s albums were a little sentimental, you might want to avoid 1997’s Andromeda Heights altogether. Andromeda Heights is a concept album about stars, but there are plenty of love-struck lyrics as well. Drummer Neil Conti had left the band by this point, and there’s not much of a band feel to most of the tracks. Often the orchestral instruments that augment the band are more pronounced, although the orchestrations aren’t as interestingly as on McAloon’s 2003 solo album, and they’re more about adding warmth and lushness. The sentimentality that was often present on Prefab Sprout’s earlier albums is much more pronounced on Andromeda Heights.
Half the songs here are enjoyable, provided that you can stomach the treacly arrangements and some of McAloon’s most heart-on-sleeve lyrics like “What you see in me I will never know. That’s the mystery of love” and “Say, what you doing’ sleeping? Hey half the day is gone / Get a move on / Life’s a miracle, let me tell you why.” The opening two tracks, ‘Electric Guitars’ and ‘Prisoner of the Past’ feature more conventional full band arrangements and are among the album’s strong pieces, while the elegant closing title track is probably my favourite song here.
As you’d expect from McAloon, there’s some good songwriting on Andromeda Heights, but it’s inconsistent and it’s difficult to get past the mushy sound.
Despite the album being one of Prefab’s weaker efforts, the b-side ‘The End of the Affair’ is probably my all time favourite Prefab song.