4. Us (1992)
Instead of capitalizing on the commercial success of 1986’s So, Gabriel virtually vanished from the spotlight. And after an incredibly long six years, he finally delivered a proper follow-up with the Daniel Lanois-produced Us, his most densely layered and sonically challenging album. The highlights are spellbinding—from the soothing balladry of “Blood Of Eden” to the psycho-therapy art-rock of “Digging In The Dirt.” Even the quirkiest, most pop-oriented tracks (like “Steam,” a ham-fisted “Sledgehammer” re-write) are self-consciously maximalist, littered with electronic ripples and wide-screen percussion. On occasion, though, those lush soundscapes mask sub-par tunes: “Kiss That Frog” is the low-point in the entire Gabriel catalog, boasting a cringe-worthy blow-job metaphor and a tired soul-rock groove.