"Before The Rain" reviews

Reviews of "Before The Rain" and its singles

Before The Rain: Vox magazine

On this third album, the second minus Louise, Eternal continue to play it safe with their raunchy but harmless family-orientated repertoire. While their contemporaries, notably the Spice Girls, play on a femme fatale reputation, Vernie, Kéllé and Easther follow their already successful formula. They sing about puppy love, relationships, and even offer some self-penned socially aware compositions ('Grace Under Pressure', Don't You Love Me).

The hit-behind their sound stick to the usual modus operandi: lightweight dance rhythms drenched in lush orchestral arrangements, all resulting in daytime radio-friendly soul. Fine stuff, if largely unchallenging.

Rating: 6/10 Reviewed by: Al-Rasheed Dauda

Dont You Love Me

Reviewed by James Lavelle (founder of the Mo'Wax label)

A radio friendly slice of shamelessly sanitized, spiceless R&B from the tragicly Louise-less soul sirens.

James: I was down with Louise. When I first saw Eternal she was the one. So now that Louise has left the band... what's the point? Eternal just don't have it for me anymore. (James renforces his point by gleefully stamping on the CD case). This is the sound of cash registers. The sound of money we don't have.

I think we ought to form our own boy band and go head-to-head with Eternal. It's got a nice little Chaka Khan keyboard flick in there. At least Live [another band reviewed in the same article] were funnier.

Before The Rain: NME

In the Louise days, Eternal looked set to be the Spice Girls in negative, thanks to their upbeat pop-soul tunes and post-fem sauce-bomb image. The Spicers went unbearably drippy on us just halfway though the debut opus. Eternal are made of sterner stuff, which is perhaps why it's taken them three albums to reach a similar state of flaccid MOR blandness.

Even on their last post-Louise epic, Vernie, Kéllé and Easther still offered the tantalising prospect of becoming a British En Vouge with booming stomp-soul anthems like Power Of A Woman. But that was then and this is now.

Admittedly Before The Rain begins with perhaps Eternal's best single yet, the elegant Massive Attack/Soul II Soul-style social commentry of Don't you Love Me with its menacing police sirens, machine-tooled grooves and glistening strings. 'Grace Under Pressure' is a beauty too, a fabbo Shirly Bassey cocktail of billowing harps and overblown sentiments.

Perhaps it's significant that the trio had a hand in penning this pair, since everything else is say-nothing swingbeat, chaste love balladry and twinkly sub-Streisand bilge. The titles say it all: 'Promises', 'All My Love', 'It's Never Too Late' and so on. There is polite yearning for a better tommorow (Someday) and a gentle chiding of of wayward menfolk (Think About Me), but both soud like feeble soundtrack auditions for one of those wretched women-being-strong-together movies staring Whitney and Whoopi.

The main irritant here is not that Eternal's backroom and puppet-masters mimic banal Americain blue prints so slavishey, but that they fail to pick up on the soaring passion, killer tunes and hip-hop derived innovation of US swing-soul giants like Toni Braxton or Mary J Blige. Consequently they produse inoffensive, unengaging family-oriented Disney-pop with a mid-Atlantic accent - which might explain why Before The Rain sounds so woefully soggy.

Rating: 4/10 Reviwed by: Stephen Dalton

Many thanks to Robert Dane for sending in these reviews.