Simon Morris, Ceramic Hob and celebrated musicologist, recently posited that the Police and Nirvana were essentially the same thing, and he's right. In both cases, there were three of them, they were very popular, they combined rock guitars with a whining noise, and Nirvana's first album was called Bleach which references the collective hairstyles of the Police. That being said, there are differences in so much as that whilst the Police sang songs about isolation, prostitutes, an inflatable sex toy, and the end of the world, Nirvana's oeuvre focused primarily on having a tummy ache and wanting only cool people in attendance at one's pop concert. Also one of their best songs ripped off Killing Joke.
Of course, I actually like Nirvana, albeit not quite so much as several other bands from their neck of the woods, so I'm writing this primarily because I dislike sacred cows and it's funny to upset those who believe Kurt died for our sins, when I'm pretty sure the coroner's report would have described a very different cause of death. Further to the posthumous reputation of the man, it differentiates from that of Sting in so much as that he is remembered as a tortured Jesuseque genius, yet was probably just a regular bloke who spent too much time thinking about things; while Sting, on the other hand, often appears to hold to an absurdly elevated opinion of his own artistic and spiritual credentials, and yet is widely understood to be a bit of a goon, albeit with the redeeming feature of having helped take the piss out of himself in that Zoolander film. The outcome of this, given public opinion being what it is, is that the Police will probably never be rescued from their own reputation as stadium-filling bores.
Still, I can't quite get with the flow on this one, and the music still sounds great to me. They came along to hog the charts at just the right time, when my ear had become attuned to anything with a vaguely punky vibe, and yet before I'd fully developed the cynicism by which I would deem music anyone else had heard of - let alone people working in Wimpy Bar - as cheap, populist, and therefore unacceptable; and the Police must have had something going for them because not even Sting's subsequent ascent to full goonhood has tarnished my regard.
This was the album recorded here and there whilst on one of those massive world tours full of screaming girls, the album composed at the height of their fame, and accordingly it's a bit uneven with the feel of a scrapbook, or even a travelogue - at least compared to the first two, both of which felt pretty solid and consistent. On the other hand, Zenyatta Mondatta works because there's nothing truly terrible here, and two tracks in particular are about the best things ever recorded by any combination of those involved; and because Bombs Away and When the World is Running Down are of such phenomenal quality, I've played this thing to death over the years to the point of it having become embedded in my psyche, and it's become so embedded in my psyche that objections along the lines of either Outlandos d'Amour being a better record, or it's the Police, man, get a grip you cloth-eared twat, for fuck's sake! simply don't register.
It's a smoother record than were the first two, luxuriating in sounds and studio polish of a quality foreshadowing at least two of these people making names for themselves as composers of film soundtracks. There's some of the cod reggae, although it's mostly closer to cod ska, and to be fair, none of it really resembles an impersonation because the cod element was more a starting point than anything; unless you just really need to loathe Sting and all ships in which he hath sailed - which I can sort of understand.
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da is probably about as irritating as you remember it being, and there seem to be a lot of instrumentals, and I never quite warmed to Behind My Camel, not even when it was inexplicably pinched by Ice Cube for something or other; but beyond these minor niggles, Zenyatta Mondatta holds together beautifully as a whole much greater than the sum of its parts.
It's just a good album.