All aboard the Texas train, destination: a Top 40 countdown in 1998. Scottish band Texas is back with their ninth album, Jump on Board. The entire album would fit in on the soft rock station that you hear at the dentist’s office: it’s a mix of easy rock and watered-down disco (easy-disco?) that sounds like it was released in the late ‘90s. I had flashbacks to the radio countdown show I used to listen to in middle school (back to a time when Cher believed in life after love and Madonna was quicker than a ray of light.) It’s a drama-free, low-emotion, light (or lite,) pleasant listen that could get play in offices everywhere.
The lead single, “Let’s Work It Out,” is a great example of the watered down disco. I imagine that this would have been the result if ABBA had reunited in 1999. It’s got Nile Rodgers-style guitar, but it’s kept very soft. It’s disco, but it’s not fast enough to dance to (unless you maintain a slow shuffle like lead singer Sharleen Spiteri in the video.) Other tracks, like “If It Was Up to You” and “Midnight,” have this same easy-disco sound. Disco is fun and invites dancing; easy-disco is nice and invites… uh, thinking about dancing, maybe? Shimmying your shoulders while staying seated? “Let’s Work It Out,” like the rest of the album, is a watered-down, lite version of what it could have been.
While many of the other songs are easy-disco, but there are a few other styles mixed in. “Won’t Let You Down” sounds like a lite, low-emotion version of Concrete Blonde’s “Joey.” It even fits the theme of singing to someone in a dark place. “Tell That Girl” is a bit more rocking with guitars and some synth, but would still be perfectly acceptable to play in the car while driving your picky grandmother. “Sending a Message” sounds different and sadder/angrier than the others; it has a sad roadhouse vibe from a pedal steel that brings in a tiny western touch. “Great Romances” pays homage to the ‘50s and has a lot of similarities to The Angel’s “My Boyfriend’s Back,” keeping with the theme of wanting a great romance from the days of old. “Round the World” has whooshing synth that sounds like it came straight out of the late ‘90s. “Can’t Control” is the most dramatic of the bunch, where drama is achieved with a bigger beat, a looped Tarzan-like vocal, and Spiteri singing in a low whisper-growl-purr. It could have given Cher’s “Believe” a run for its money on the 1998 charts.
Despite how harsh the last couple of paragraphs may have seemed, overall, I liked this album. It’s a very easy, pleasant listen. There’s nothing wrong with it. Spiteri has beautiful vocals and the album is mixed to showcase them. The lyrics are fine, they have some mature relationship advice (tell her how you feel, work things out and stay together, etc.) It probably won’t make you feel any strong feelings, but it’s perfectly lovely as background music… like on a soft rock radio station played at the dentist’s office. Much like my indifference to most easy-rock-friendly Top 40 from the late ‘90s, I wouldn’t actively seek Jump on Board out but I would leave it on if it popped up on a playlist or radio station. It’s drama-free, which can be a good thing in certain situations, but doesn’t really make for an album that you’ll want to go back to time and time again.