A humiliating kick in the crotch-The Police's final studio album

Sep 14, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent musicianship, good lyrics and singing and four classic singles

Cons:Mother and Mrs. Gradenko

The Bottom Line: I recommend this to people who like thoughtful music. This is an intelligent album with some truly great songs.

The Police were already global superstars by the time their final studio album was released in 1983. Beginning with Outlandos D'Amour(1978) through Ghost in the Machine(1981), each successive Police album was more successful than the previous effort. A lot of critics had been predicting the demise of the band-due to infighting- and they were correct in this assumption. The Police were no longer a democracy. They were Sting's band.

The Police broke up shortly after the release of Synchronicity. No official word was given; The Police just stopped doing anything together. It seems weird that a band would part after such a stunning success, but in this case, The Police truly went out on top. Synchronicity was #1 for seventeen straight weeks during the summer of 1983. Th3e album had the distinction of dethroning Michael Jackson's mega-selling Thriller album.

Leading off the album is the bombastic "Synchronicity I." The track has a relentlessly fast beat and has some nifty sequencer sounds courtesy of Sting. Sting was studying the Swiss philosopher Carl Jung at the time and it shows. Jung's synchronicity theory has to do with seemingly unrelated things being somehow interconnected. We know you/they know me/extrasensory/synchronicity are an example of the clipped lyrics. This is The Police running at full throttle... like a finely tuned sleek sportscar.

Some of the tracks included here are curios to say the least. The two that stick out are "Mother" and "Mrs. Gradenko." "Mother is a track written and sung by the band's guitarist Andy Summers. This track is nearly unlistenable. It sounds like a cross between Norman Bates and a street corner lunatic inhabiting the same body. The music is bizarre, too, sounding like something you might hear in Morrocco. It baffles me why The Police chose to include this song when they had Summers' excellent "Someone to Talk to" waiting in the studio vault(it was used as a B-side to Wrapped Around Your Finger). Stewart Copeland's "Mrs. Gradenko" is not nearly as irritating as the Summers composition, but it is slight and follows directly after "Mother" on the album. Luckily The Police recovered from these two miscues with the remaining tracks being the strongest of the bunch.

"Synchronicity II" is a hard rocking track, kind of heavy metal-lite. Sting sings about the irritants of everyday suburban life with grandmother screaming at the wall/we have to shout above the din of our Rice Krispies/we can't hear anything at all. The music is hard; Copeland employs a snare sound like he is using a telephone pole for a drumstick and Summers has an eerie distortion filled guitar solo.

"Every Breath You Take" is Sting's masterpiece of jealousy and obsession. With lush instrumentation and Sting's velvet delivery of the cold lyrics the song is very seductive. It is easy to see why this is one of the most popular songs in recorded music history. The song just sounds perfect.

"King of Pain" is an upbeat rock song with some very disturbing lyrics. There's a king on a throne with his eyes torn out.../ there's a skeleton choking on a crust of bread. The music is strong here, too, as The Police use a more rock sounding approach rather than their reggae rythmns. The song employs a catchy chorus and fades with Sting repeating the refrain I'll always be king of pain.

"Wrapped Around Your Finger" and "Tea in the Sahara" are moody set pieces with a lot of atmospheric sounds. "Tea in the Sahara" uses an expansive arrangement that goes quite well with the story of the doomed sisters in the desert.

The final is "Murder By Numbers." This was not included on the original vinyl release in 1983. It was included on cassette and CD. Sting received some controversy over the lyrics about easy ways to become a killer. The music on this song was written by Andy Summers and has a slight jazz quality to it. As the song comes to a close, Stewart Copeland lays on a drum solo that is the stuff of rock legend. The band can be heard with a few handclaps that are not all that cheerful.

Synchronicity is not The Police's best album, but it has some truly inspiring moments. This is an album that should be listened to a few times, just to catch the little nuances here and there. Despite the inclusion of a couple of inferior tracks this is still a satisfying album.

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