Asia, that platinum monument to corporate-rock mediocrity, makes Toto sound like the Rolling Stones by comparison. Well, okay, maybe the Greg Kihn Band, but you get the idea: Gigantic, major power chords bleached clean by a perpetual, treacly synth deluge shot through with silly, boyish harmonies and production values consisting of turning all controls completely clockwise. We're talking epic here -- there's so much air in the mix you can use the record to blow-dry your hair.
Which is presumably what millions of teenage girls had in mind, judging by last year's debut album, a punishing monolith of MOR cynicism that threatened to sit on the airwaves until we all cried "uncle!" Senseless, sexless and soulless as that was, it couldn't have prepared us for this year's new! improved! product, inexplicably entitled "Alpha."
Aficionados will be relieved to find the same overblown instrumentation, the same affinity for mangled metaphors (personal favorite, from "My Own Time": "The tide has turned / Getting your fingers burned"), the same key even, for the most part. The only perceptible difference is in the lyrics, all but two of which consist of routine, misogynous female-flogging.
For that, Asia should be ruthlessly attacked by a plague of emery-board-wielding Valley Girls. And their little dogs, too! ASIA -- "Alpha" (Geffen GHS 4008). Appearing Sunday at 7:30 at Merriweather Post Pavilion.