Regatta De Blanc, by The Police
Only one year after recording and releasing their debut album, the Police came out with a second album that consolidated their success. If anything, the album’s success was even greater, as it had two hits in Message In A Bottle and Walking On The Moon as well as a beloved album track that Sting would later use as the title of his first solo live album (Bring On The Night). As someone who has not taken a listen to the back catalog of the Police though, it is fair to wonder in a world where artists routinely wait two or even as many as five years to follow up an album whether or not the one year between the first and second albums is enough to show the sort of progress one would want. While it is remarkable that the Police were as good as they were to start out with, they were clearly singing songs with a great deal of emotional immaturity. Did matters improve with their second album? Let’s find out.
“Message In A Bottle” begins the album with a moving reflection of loneliness and isolation that is so infectious and catchy that it remains enjoyable more than 40 years after it was released and became a hit. The title track follows with inspired instrumentation and somewhat nonsense vocal sounds that nevertheless sounds energetic. “It’s Alright For You” follows with a somewhat repetitive hook that seeks to describe what sort of portrayal is alright for the woman the band is talking about. “Bring On The Night” has immensely intricate instrumental work with its lyrics of dissatisfaction and a desire for closure. “Deathwish” follows with more nervous but virtuosic instrumentation and lyrics that examine a careless approach to life and death. “Walking On The Moon” combines the themes of nighttime and social isolation that the album has been full of, and it was an unexpected hit. “On Any Other Day” tells the story of an oppressed man who has reached the end of his tether, the sort of material that seems to have inspired future pop punk acts. “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” expresses regret at a past relationship that has ended and the narrator’s inability to cope with the loneliness and isolation. “Contact” provides a poignant discussion of communication between people as a means of dealing with isolation with some ominous music. “Does Everyone Stare” is a deceptively simple song that seeks to find some sort of insight into staring and wondering how other people behave. “No Time This Time” closes the album with more nervous energy, something one finds a lot of in the band’s early work.
If Regatta De Blanc certainly includes some filler and is not quite the sort of epic production that the Police would be later capable of, it certainly marks progress for the group. If their debut marked them as a band with promise, if immature and unpolished, this album shows that in terms of instrumentation the band had made some serious advances, even if the lyrics were not as poetic as would later be the case. Still, if this album has a lot of songs with repetitive choruses, the production is excellent and the music is stellar here, and there are some worthy finds in this album that have stood the test of time beyond the obvious hit singles. And if there are a couple of songs here that still seem to pander to aimless young men and their anxieties, there is some emotional depth and insight coming on songs like “The Bed’s Too Big Without You” and “Does Everyone Stare,” and overall this album is just as thought provoking as the last album, demonstrating that the Police were consolidating their promising beginning.