Taking It All Too Hard (2/25/84) #50 US, #41 AR, #11 AC
“If Genesis still had one foot in the art rock world with Abacab, they jumped into pop with both feet on their eponymous release” (Iyengar). With their “mid-tempo arrangements designed for pop radio in the 1980s” (Iyengar), “the songs are so concise they’re virtually new wave, but still steeped in angst” (Pareles). Then there’s the “crisp, glossy production” (Iyengar) courtesy of “Police and XTC producer Hugh Padham” (Pareles), in which “the drums go boom and Collins belts hard while simple keyboard hooks are slammed home” (Pareles).
The “determined attempt to go pop…(Are those cookie cutters on the album cover?)” (Pareles), meant a “lack of musical innovation that fans had come to expect was a little disappointing” (Iyengar). Still, “after years of relative obscurity on this side of the Atlantic, one cannot blame the band, especially one so talented” (Iyengar).
Besides, even if “they had lost their edge, Genesis still had the ability to craft catchy songs” (Iyengar). “There were many hits, the biggest of which were the slower easy listening songs such as That's All or Taking It All Too Hard. While all the songs are unbelievable catchy, they often mask inane lyrics” (Iyengar), such as on “the surpassingly stupid, Mexican-accented Illegal Alien – where craftsmanship overcomes good sense” (Pareles) and “tarnishes the album” (Pareles).
“Genesis still represents the best pop radio of that era, and the album is still recommended for fans looking for 1980s nostalgia or fans of Phil Collins' solo work” (Iyengar).