Joe Jackson - Look Sharp! (1979), 7/10

Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp! is straightforward fun. From the opener onward, if "One More Time" doesn't make you want to move you probably just want to pass on the whole album and perhaps the genre. It's a great opener bursting at the seams with danceable energy and one of Joe's best songs over his entire catalogue. Most will recognize "Is She Really Going Out With Him?", a very successful pop tune that excels beyond radio play as a solid composition with ample movement. The energy stays sky high through the rapid-fire track list including the frantic "Got the Time", passionate performances set to upbeat instrumentals like these are the biggest highlights. While not every song has the depth or dynamic sound of its successful singles, even the silliest in the mix are still fun. “Sunday Papers” and “Happy Loving Couples”, for example, are perhaps too simple to elicit much of a reaction, yet Joe’s simple everyman delivery retains a humorous and innocent charm. Even if you disagree, the momentum is then immediately picked up and rocketed to the heavens with “Throw It Away” that sounds more punk than anything here with Jackson’s screeching howls, dissonant guitar distortion and sound-bending riffs included, although considering this album’s ethos as punk is questionable at best at this point; this is clearly a pop album. It is worth mentioning Jackson’s piano playing and vocals are often the center of the melodies, but the guitar, drums and bass in particular all have their shining moments diffused throughout the track list. There is no significantly consistent complexity in the instrumentals, yet there are surprising moments of nuanced, composite sound thrown into otherwise catchy and infectious songs. This along with one of the most consistently propulsive pop albums of the seventies with non-stop spirited momentum make Look Sharp! a force to be reckoned with.