That's a shame you're so down on Up - I couldn't resist that - but I do get that it's quite a divisive album and not high up on most fans' lists. But I found it slowly gave up its rewards with a bit of time; it certainly wasn't an instantly good listen but I don't find it thin at all, with the exception of Barry Williams.
By the time UP was released, it had been a long time waiting and we are talking about an artist who could do no wrong with me. As far as I am concerned, Peter pretty much walked on water artistically. So, as you can imagine, I was open, receptive and I really wanted to like UP. I didn't and it wasn't easy for me to accept. I gave it several listens throughout the years and my initial opinion hasn't changed much unfortunately.
There are three different aspects which I find unconvincing:
Production: Very 'dry' imo. Most of the songs were years old and had been worked on, over and over, as customary with Peter in different versions.
It is no wonder some of them hardly sounded fresh and really 'overcooked'. Peter had always been an innovator and suddenly he was releasing an album with songs he had been sitting on for over a decade. It left me baffled.
Tracks: Again, I think he said himself he had over a 100 songs to choose from, I think he could have probably avoided releasing re-arranged stuff like I Grieve and Sky blue. Incidentally, imo, amongst the best on the album.
Material: The first two albums aside, Peter has always been a very consistently, strong writer. Even his fillers have some quality to them but here for my money, too many songs don't cut it or are merely OK. There's really nothing great for me.
As I said I like Sky Blue and I Grieve, even though regarding the latter, I could live without that poppy coda. Darkness, sounds like three bits, not all them equally good, patched together and not necessarily well.
Growing up and The BW show are imo not something Peter will be remembered by.
I find My head sounds like that and More than this quite forgettable.
Signal to the noise has an incredible arrangement but for my taste not enough 'meat' to it. It doesn't have the melodic quality of say, San Jacinto.
The arrangement is really 90% of the song and The Drop is pleasant, no more than that.