A catchy and -- at least at first -- folk-inflected New Wave act with spry, observant lyrics full of humorous twists and emotional depth. Aztec Camera's Roddy Frame is still a talented songwriter and a singer with a delicate, softly falling voice. The closer you stick to the AC's lower-key early material, however, the better off you'll be. For some ill-begotten reason, after Knife (1984) he began molding his songs after the over-produced R&B-ish (i.e. rubbish) Adult Contemporary churned out by Simply Red and the solo Boy George. Bloated horn sections, syrupy harmonies, fluffy Blue-Eyed Soul passages and gallon after gallon of studio varnish smother the emotional burn of Frame's writing. Love and Stray may contain more hit songs, but relative to the more atmospheric first two albums they're mere crust after pie. With their unassuming, clean hooks and perfect lyric poise, High Land, Hard Rain's "Oblivious" and Knife's "Birth of the True" rank among the most exemplary songs ever hoisted aloft by New Wave.