Review Summary: The follow-up to Rumours confused many people, but with the benefit of hindsight, it makes perfect sense.
As a follow-up to Rumours
, this is an odd one, yet somehow, it makes perfect sense. Rumours
, of course, was a band, and two relationships, splintering before our eyes in a bloody mess of infidelity, mistrust, drugs, and anger. Tusk
follows on well because it's the sound of the various members of Fleetwood Mac coming to terms with what's happened. It's an album that's resigned, unhappy yet defiant.
The moments that do really stand out are Buckingham's. "The Ledge" and "What Makes You Think You're The One" are possibly the two best examples (along with "Second Hand News") of just what he does best - playing the unhinged, unstable victim without sacrificing pop hooks or disturbing the overall soft-rock sound. When Buckingham signs on his 2006 solo album that he 'read a review/said I was a visionary/but nobody knew', these are the kinds of songs you're reminded of. Of course, he'd wrested almost complete control of the band by this point, and the rest of the album displays his mark - there are little touches of off-centre subversion everywhere. Some of them don't reveal themselves truly until the 3rd or 4th listen, but even when you haven't foregrounded them they make a difference. Some hated Buckingham for doing this, but without his touch and his control this album could well have failed.
Stevie Nicks dominates the album in her own way, though, and she defines the overall mood despite having only 5 songs. Her songs are those resigned, lovely moments that truly captures the emotion of the aftermath of a failed relationship - you're moving on, but part of you doesn't want to because of just what you're leaving behind. "Storms", "Beautiful Child", and even "Sara", the song of her abortion, are all touching, dreamy, elegaic songs that maintain a fine balance between being emotional and distant. Look at how the latter barely touches upon Stevie's feelings, instead asking of Sara 'when you build your house, call me home'. Only in the payoff line - 'all I ever wanted/was to know that you were dreaming' - does Stevie reflect on herself, rather than the events. It does, in truth, get a little samey, but when you get into the mood, it's also perfect.
Nothing here stands up to anything on Rumours
, but that doesn't matter so much. It's a different kind of record, and in any case, very few albums have songs as good as "Dreams" and "The Chain". Still, this album's flaw is that none of the songs here are truly great. "What Makes You Think You're The One", "Sara", "Tusk", and Christie McVie's "Over And Over" both come very close, but an album of this length and vision needs truly great songs to keep itself afloat. Look at all the songs on, say, Songs In The Key Of Life
, or Sign O' The Times
, or Physical Graffiti
. Obvious double albums one and all, but they're famous because they've got songs like "Black Man", "As", "If I Was Ur Girlfriend", "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man", "Kashmir", and so on. Tusk
, for all its strengths, doesn't have songs of that quality. Still, unlike a lot of double albums, nothing here sounds like filler, and it's relatively easy to get through at least 3 sides of this in one sitting, unlike notorious failures in the field. Perhaps one just for fans of post-Peter Green Fleetwood Mac, but this fan enjoys this album quite a bit.