"Europa" ist ein öder Mix aus 90er Jahre Dance und Europop ("Follow Your Heart"), House ("Dancing With No Fear"), 80er Synth-Pop ("Heaven's Eyes") und schwülstigen Balladen ("So Much It Hurts", "The Sun Will Shine Again"). In Unkenntnis von "Hollelujah" (1990), "Dreams That Money Can't Buy" (1991) und "Soulstream" (1999) muss ich mich fragen, wie schlecht diese Alben waren, wenn sie im Gegensatz zu "Europa" die Charts gänzlich verfehlten. Es fällt mir wirklich sehr schwer hier einen Anspieltipp zu nennen - vielleicht den Titelsong?
His voice has held up well over the years however, and as usual it’s a joy to hear him on form. If it weren’t for his presence, then many of these songs could easily be written off as half-baked synth pop. And there are times unfortunately when that voice is just not enough. The appalling Europop of Hold On Tight is beyond saving, whilst Dancing No With No Fear is by the book and uninspired. Yet despite these moments there are a few highlights. In And Out Of Love is bouncy cheesy pop that just for a moment pays homage to Morris Albert‘s Feelings and Frankie’s The Power Of Love. It’s a little straight up, but with vocal hooks this strong it’s one of the finer moments on the album. So Much It Hurts takes a more emotionally charged look at love and is a startling reminder of just what a fantastically talented vocalist Johnson is. It’s his presence that makes the song soar, because the tin-pot drums and programming threaten to derail it completely.
The title track Europa was apparently written with Vangelis in a studio situated in concrete bunker that had been designed for Hitler. This is reflected in the song’s darker tones and the theatrical zeal of Johnson’s vocals. It’s perhaps as close to the wired intensity of Two Tribes as the album ever dares to get and it provides a much needed break from the lightweight dance tunes. That said, it’s still awash in ’80s signifiers; from the guitar solo tones to the production, it’s all there.
Yet for every high point there’s something abominable or uninspired waiting to balance things out. Eurovision would find Hold On Tight a little bit obvious, the hokey synths of Lonesome Town detract from Johnson’s vocals, and the backing vocal of “leaves in a tea cup” on Heaven’s Eyes borders on parody. Thankfully there are a few moments, like the impassioned You’re In My Dreams Tonight that possess real passion, proving, as if proof were needed, that Holly Johnson is still a quite breathtaking vocalist. This album just doesn’t provide the musical support that he deserves.