“We Can’t Dance” is a pleasant album which lacks direction. In several places Genesis tries to return to its 1970s art-rock roots. Two songs, “Driving the Last Spike” and “Fading Lights,” clock in at over ten minutes. While lengthy suites worked well on older albums such as “Fox Trot” and “Wind and Wuthering,” they become tedious when used by the current version of Genesis.
Attempts to sound socially aware lead Genesis nowhere. “Tell Me Why” flaunts weak lyrics like “Mother’s crying in the street / children dying at their feet / tell me why / oh tell me why …” After similar songs marred his solo album, ” … But Seriously,” lead singer Phil Collins should have learned a lesson. “Jesus He Knows Me” is a fun but disjointed attack on televangelists.
Genesis gets more when it tries for less. “No Son of Mine” boasts some affecting vocals, and “I Can’t Dance” should appeal to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. By far the album’s best song is “Dreaming While You Sleep,” which describes the guilt feelings of a hit-and-run driver. Spooky synthesizers and muffled cries succeed in putting the listener behind the wheel. Genesis may no longer be on the progressive edge of music, but “We Can’t Dance” at least deserves a listen. n