While the first Police album flirted with both commercial and punk sounds, the second one heads straight in the direction of mass appeal. Whether or not this choice was a financial or artistic one, this choice yielded some of the Police’s most rhythm-oriented music, resulting in 42 minutes of solid grooves.
The album kicks off with the distinct brand of Police reggae, "Message in a Bottle." Washing the listener ashore with its catchy pulse, the song recounts Sting’s cries for help. The album continues with the theme of struggle by presenting upbeat sounding songs with downtrodden lyrics. In “On Any Other Day,” Sting recounts how everything is going wrong. On the slow groove “This Bed’s Too Big Without You,” a former lover is lamented.
While speed and power were the fuel that drove the first Police album, this one sustains itself on medium-tempo grooves which pull the listener along instead of driving from behind. This new strategy is both a benefit and detriment to the band. While playing at a slower pace, the band allowing the fullness of their sound and style to be appreciated, showing that they really do know how to write a good groove, the passion and angst from the first album is completely gone. While on Outlandos d’Amour the Police were young and hungry, it seems that in one short year they had grown to being full and incontent.
But this inability to get fired up is most effective in some spots. Were Sting to yell and scream for the whole album, his voice would surely get annoying. But, since he keeps it subdued for most of the album, when his voice does rise on “Does Everyone Stare,” it is that much more effective. This song seems to be the apex of Police’s grooviest songs, as it starts off simple and matures into a melancholy toe-tapper.
As the Police became more and more popular they began to slow down the music with this album starting the trend. While later day Police songs seem to meander, this album seems to slow down just enough to allow the songs to breath without wheezing. Although their early fire is gone, Reggatta de Blanc allows the Police to show they know reggae as well as they know punk. It also shows that they are not content restricting themselves to either. So, in this evolution they lose a little bit of what made them special, but they display the remainder in an uncluttered and pretty darn good exhibition.