Last year, Everything but the Girl had what must have been the strange sensation of watching Todd Terry’s remix of “Missing,” a song from the then year-old album Amplified Heart, become a massive dance-club hit. The “Missing” phenomenon brought the duo—vocalist Tracy Thorn and multi-instrumentalist Ben Watt—an unprecedented measure of commercial success. The catch, of course, was having to make a follow-up album that would appeal to EBTG’s newfound fans without alienating the old ones. Perhaps as a consequence, Walking Wounded, the duo’s eighth release, is an awkward effort. (The discography included in its liner notes is a telling reminder that the anticipated market for this record doesn’t know the duo has a past.) The songs, most co-written by Watt and Thorn, are melodically inert and laced through with electronic affectations. Two of Wounded’s songs appear twice—once as performed by the band and again as remixes by Terry and the Omni Trio, respectively. But even the nonremix tracks attempt to approximate a dance-club sound, from the pointlessly busy drum machine on “Before Today” to the ambient noodling on “Flipside.” This pumped-up delivery is at odds with the duo’s typically morose lyrics. (Despite the fact that Watt and Thorn have been a couple since the early ’80s, almost all of Thorn’s lyrics are about the aftermath of failed romance.) Yet the most serious consequence of EBTG’s flirtation with disco—ironically, one song here is called “Mirrorball”—is that it downplays the duo’s greatest asset—Thorn’s magnificent voice. Which is reason enough to roll up the dance floor.

—Nicole Arthur