“In another time, in another place, Paddy McAloon might have been happily productive somewhere between the Algonquin and Broadway in 1930s New York (‘I want to be,’ he once crooned, hopefully, ‘the Fred Astaire of words.’) Or beavering away in an office in the Brill Building in the 50s. Or maybe some place on that off-kilter middle of the road between Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb in the 60s. Almost anywhere, you might have thought, other than Britain in the mid-80s” (Troussé).
“Some hard-hearted professors of pop would have it that 1985 was the absolute nadir of British music: all the fizz of new pop gone flat, the independent scene a twee shambles. Yet in records such as…Prefab Sprout’s Steve McQueen, you have some of the most beautiful, enduring British pop music ever made. For a year or two…the challenge of making new pop for grown-ups without being dowdy, smug, or jaded was met, quite superbly” (Troussé).
“One of the defining qualities of the record is its pop ambition” (Troussé) – “the glittering guitar that opens Goodbye Lucille, the 10cc/ZTT moments of When Love Breaks Down. Even Wendy Smith’s gaseous backing vocals, haunting the record like the ghost of Hayley Mills” (Troussé). McAloon “aspired to the standards of Stephen Foster, Gershwin, Sondheim, Quincy Jones, McCartney; saw himself as a contemporary of Prince rather than Lloyd Cole. He had a grand sense of pop music” (Troussé) and the result is an album that shows a “willingness to engage with its times, precisely by not being a sullen singer-songwriter would-be timeless classic. Imagine if Sinatra had decided that Nelson Riddle's arrangements tied his albums to closely to the early 50s” (Troussé).
“Ironically, considering the producer’s name [Thomas Dolby], it’s a record in so many ways about infidelity. Or let’s say about the consequences of romanticism…The whole album rails against easy escapism: Appetite, sung from the perspective of a girl left to bring up the baby of some young firebrand; Desire As seeing no escape from a lifetime of new flames; the rueful regrets of Bonny” (Troussé).