Swiss duo Yello have had a long, illustrious, and – for anyone outside continental Europe – largely irrelevant career. For their tenth album, after a couple of decades of dark and filmic music, they finally decided on a very apt title, Motion Picture, and after the atmospheric sound of the previous album, 1997’s Pocket Universe, they tried very much to return to what they knew best.
Motion Picture starts in particularly fine form with the brilliant Get On. It’s every bit as good as anything in Yello‘s history, with a slightly cheeky rhythm, a laid back, late night feel, and a fun deep vocal performance. It would be difficult to overstate quite how good this opening piece actually is – particularly in the context of the rest of the album.
Unfortunately, there’s really very little else on this album to like. With Houdini, Prisoner of His Mind, and Distant Mirror they really do little more than retread old ground, and they don’t even manage to do that especially well.
Mid-album pieces such as Time Freeze do make up for the shortcomings of some of their neighbours, but still really fail to grab the listener, and Croissant Bleu is a particular disappointment given how excellent its title is. Far from bad, but far from deserving of such a title either.
Liquid Lies is pretty good too – on an earlier album this might have passed without comment, but on Motion Picture it’s sadly the last of the decent tracks, followed as it is by the single, the awful but still somewhat catchy Squeeze Please.
Shake & Shiver is total drivel too unfortunately, and the last three tracks, Bubbling Under, Point Blank, and Cyclops are all nice enough, but largely forgettable. Yello at the turn of the 21st century, two decades into their career, were not exactly at their pinnacle. The follow-up, 2003’s The Eye was considerably better, and really seemed to have learned from some of their mistakes, but it wasn’t really until Touch Yello, a decade later, that they really seemed to have come to terms with who they were.
Import versions of Motion Picture are still available through standard retailers.