10cc’s Original Soundtrack is a fascinating record. Musically there’s more going on than in ten Yes albums, yet it’s generally as accessible as a straight pop band (though less so than the two preceding 10cc LPs). Lyrically 10cc pose an alternative to timeworn lovelorn laments or tortuous interior monologs: They deploy clichés for multilevel effect and utilize hyperbole and parable intelligently.
This is their most ambitious LP, marking a significant extension of their previous popstyled stance. ‘Une Nuit à Paris’, for instance, is a three-part scenario featuring almost a dozen sordid characters (the band’s limitless vocal range comes in handy), done with appealing melodies and a sinister, seedy atmosphere — the two elements entirely compatible to 10cc.
‘I’m Not in Love’ is a shimmering romantic ballad (the equal of anything done recently by the Beach Boys) with a cruel cutting edge. The singer dashes the hopes of his paramour in no uncertain terms — or is it a cover up, a sendup or both?
‘Brand New Day’ propounds a dreary dogma of ultimate futility, with Calvinistic undercurrents — the general attitude can best be described as hopelessly pessimistic. The music, typically, is delicately pretty. ‘The Second Sitting for the Last Supper’, a musical contrast and the closest thing to an out-and-out rocker, is a bitingly clever antireligious diatribe.
Though in general the album is a listening delight, I’ve got scattered reservations about it. The music often becomes schizoid, changing to keep pace with the lyrical wizardry, until sometimes I’m tempted to file it all away with Sparks records under Cleverness and forget it. But there’s really much more substance here. 10cc is among the few groups actively engaged in stretching rock’s restrictive boundaries in a constructive and meaningful manner, without falling prey to pretense or excess.
© Ken Barnes, Rolling Stone, 19 June 1975