With their 1985 LP, The Gap Band VII, reaching a still-stellar number six R&B, the band found themselves out of the very top of the charts for the first time in the better part of a decade. Still slick and sure of their intent, the Gap Band had reached a point where their material was beginning to become stagnant. But stagnant by their standards still equaled solid-gold hits by anyone else. With odd guitar slides and heavy bass wandering through the near-synth pop of the opening "Desire," the band cleaved their way right into the heart of the mid-decade mainstream, pausing only to take their softly strained R&B ballad "Going in Circles" to number two. But, for the band, it was quickly back to business across the eminently catchy tunes "Automatic Brain" and "Ooh, What a Feeling," leaving both "L'il Red Funkin' Hood" and "Bumpin' Gum People," which features funkier vocals than listeners had heard from the band in quite some time, to round out the set with some good-old Gap Band sonics. Elsewhere, the band pulled a quiet storm trick out of their bag on "I Know We'll Make It."
Gap Band VII isn't a bad set. But, in light of what listeners would come to love this band for, it emerged strangely disappointing, and more sadly still, ultimately lacking the group's usual snap and fire. ~ Amy Hanson