by Jason Elias
The Carpenters were one of the more ubiquitous and successful acts of the early and mid-'70s. Songs like "Close to You" and "Rainy Days and Mondays" make the shortlist of pop classics of the '70s. Unfortunately their 1973 retrospective,
, might have wrapped up their commercial careers too soon. This 1975 effort seems to be willing to explore sad emotions with the blithe songs appearing almost as an afterthought. Although it would sound the death knell for many efforts, with
's pitch-perfect and sorrowful voice, it's actually a nice fit, and an emphasis on the duo's subtext. The beautifully arranged "Aurora" sets the album's ambiance. "Eventide," a continuation of the melody and theme, shows up later in the album. The covers, "Desperado" and "Please Mister Postman," have the duo adding nothing new to the tracks. A more convincing take on the standard "I Can Dream Can't I" was co-arranged and orchestrated by the legendary
. The track, despite the depressing horn and backing vocal arrangement, has Carpenter's empathy and tone ringing clear. Another cover, "Solitaire" written by
, is melodramatic but a great match for Carpenter's voice. The originals, including "(I'm Caught Between) Goodbye and I Love You," are competent but not magical, and that fact diminishes the effort. Although some might be put off by the sorrow or bust ethos of this, Horizon gains its strength from strong production values and, of course,
's singular gifts as an interpreter.