Lately, I've been returning to the music of my youth, something people seem to do with their thirties on the horizon. When I was seven, my dad gave me my first boombox along with a few cassettes and CDs to call my own -the Sundays, the GoGos and the Bangles. I played these cassettes until the tape gave out or my sister, at the tender age of one, did what I had done to a few of my dad's cassettes: ripped the tape out. The Bangles were one of the go-to soundtracks of my childhood. I was drawn to the darker and deeper songs - "Bell Jar", "Something to Believe in", "Be With You", and "Watching the Sky." While that might say something about me, believe me when I say I knew that cassette back and forth. "In Your Room" was the breakout song off this album, but Everything is worth a full listen.
Released in 1985, Different Light elevated the Bangles to pop stardom, but at a price -- it was a significantly less interesting and cohesive album than their debut, All Over the Place, and the production as well as the addition of outside musicians and songwriters robbed the group of a great deal of its fire and personality. In many respects, 1988's Everything was more of the same, but success seems to have emboldened the Bangles just a bit -- while producer Davitt Sigerson still keeps the sound slick and radio-ready and a flock of guest musicians were brought in for the sessions, the album's approach seems less inclined to smother the group's identity, and the West Coast garage and folk-rock accents of their earlier work come back into the picture, albeit in muted form. A number of outside songwriters were brought in to work up material for Everything, but each of them collaborated with at least one member of the group, and while it's anyone's guess how Vinnie Vincent was tapped for this project, the songs suit the group better than, say, "Manic Monday" or "Walk Like an Egyptian." "Complicated Girl," "Be with You," and "Some Dreams Come True" are fine songs and strong performances if you can look past the studio gingerbread, and while Susanna Hoffs was positioned front and center on the album's two singles, "Eternal Flame" and "In Your Room," they at least suited her vocal style and the latter is an irresistibly hooky rocker. "Glitter Years" is a fun and high-kicking salute by Michael Steele to her days in the Runaways, and if the Bangles had to have another guitarist imposed upon them, David Lindley was a far better match than most. In many respects, Everything is a work dominated by compromises, but at the very least it allowed the Bangles a shade more freedom and autonomy than Different Light, and of the two it's easily the better album, though it still falls well short of the promise of their first recordings. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi