The white soul duo out of Philadelphia have come back, bringing with them an album that is as tired as Monday morning. Clearly there is an audience for this type of music. Daryl Hall and John Oates have had six platinum albums and six number one singles since their first hit in ’74, and this album has reached #77 on the Billboard charts. But hell, even Michael Bolton is a household name. But their soul sounding hooks and melodies, though they may still be well produced, come off as lifeless, flaccid grooves throughout Do It For Love.
Breaking into their fourth decade of soul power, the duo has at last fallen into a groove that can be called their own. Their popular ’70s hits such as “Sarah Smile” and “She’s Gone” speak to a generation of music listeners, but the ’70s are over. Can Hall and Oates be marked for posterity? In this new world of urban music, American Idol and Justified, Hall and Oates style has aged like the love bead — still used, but only by those wishing to show a little kinkyness in their interior decorating.
Hall and Oates can still sing, and their vocals are still nice, but the words that follow are uninspiring, nonsensical, clichéd and tired. In their cover song “Do It For Love,” they sing, “I’d sing songs at the top of my voice in an empty room / Just to dance with you / To love you into every morning I’d leave the world behind / And slow down time.” But the pedestrian value of the lyrics only gets worse as the album continues. From “Someday We’ll Know,” the chorus proves to be something you might expect from Sesame Street “Someday we’ll know why love can’t move a mountain / Someday we’ll know why the sky is blue / Someday we’ll know why I wasn’t there for you.” Someone should call Daryl and John and fill them in on the limits of physics.
The lackluster lyrics are only followed by apathetic, uneventful percussion, keyboard and acoustic guitar. This outdated duo even tries to pay homage to the current decade, but it becomes a scary flash back to bad disco meets lethargic beat in “Miss DJ.” It is almost disturbing to think of these Michael Bolton predecessors watching the poor Miss DJ, “She’s gotta’ groove that will make you feel funky / She’s got a body you want to take home / She licks the lips that you gotta’ know better / Hey Miss DJ how do I get you alone?” I wish Hall and Oates had absorbed some of the deejay’s funky beat.
It is shocking sometimes that such uninspired lackluster soul can be marketed and sold. I don’t know if this is more a comment on Daryl Hall and John Oates or on the American public who rock out to this limp white soul.