Review Summary: I intended to fairly review the musical and lyrical quality of Prussian Blue's second album while trying to remain unbiased towards their, frankly, abominable political beliefs. Conclusion: Prussian Blue is bad at making music.4 of 4 thought this review was well written
By now, I'm sure we're all familiar with Prussian Blue. The neo-Nazi duo, comprising twin sisters Lamb and Lynx Gaede, has long been a staple of blogs and sensationalist news shows. The first articles to come out about them billed them as "teen pop," and an early Viceland interview claimed they sang like angels. From reading these descriptions, I pictured a slickly-produced bubblegum pop record along the lines of Hilary Duff, but with songs about curb-stomping black people instead of crushes and being yourself. Hoping for a laugh, I downloaded both their CDs and was in for an unfortunate surprise.
Put simply, their music is not good. It's not even good in an overproduced bouncy teenybopper kind of way. White supremacists simply don't have the money or resources to produce the kind of music that we've been led to believe Prussian Blue makes. And the instant you start hearing their low, wobbly voices droning out their badly-written lyrics, it stops being funny and starts just being sad. That's when you realize that these aren't the sugary creations of some neo-Nazi record label, a la Britney Spears, an ironic reflection both of our culture's crass consumerism and its underlying racism. These are just two little girls, with the expected musical talent of two little girls, whose mother has indoctrinated them with horrible, horrible beliefs. They don't seem to know that they're not good musicians. They don't seem to know anything their mother hasn't taught them.
This review is of their second album, The Path We Chose
, since Michael Freitag already wrote a hilarious review of their debut. But first, a little background: Lynx and Lamb were "discovered" at Euro-Fest 2001 (a neo-Nazi gathering) by National Alliance founder and author of The Turner Diaries
, William Pierce, who suggested they record a children's album for his neo-Nazi record label, Resistance Records. They promptly learned how to play instruments (Lamb learned the guitar and Lynx learned the violin) and in 2004, released Fragment of the Future
, a folk album consisting primarily of covers of such hate rock bands as Skrewdriver and RAHOWA (short for "Racial Holy War"). Only four out of thirteen songs on Fragment
were original; their mother, April, wrote "Aryan Man Awake." Lamb co-wrote "Sacrifice" with April and "Hate for Hate: Lamb Near the Lane" with neo-Nazi guru David Lane. Only the short, chorusless "Victory" did Lamb write all by herself.
One year and a flood of publicity later, Lamb and Lynx returned to the studio to produce an album that pandered more to the mainstream than their white supremacist subculture. For one, they dropped the folk angle and cultivated what they called a "bubblegum pop" sound. This time, Lamb wrote six out of the nine tracks, several of them about middle school crushes, and they now covered more subtle neo-Nazi favorites than they had before so that their political agenda wouldn't immediately be apparent to the listener. To top it all off, they titled the CD The Path We Chose
, a response to the frequent claims that their mother had indoctrinated them into white supremacy and that they didn't actually know what they were saying. I intend to fairly review the musical and lyrical quality of The Path We Chose
while trying to remain unbiased towards their, frankly, abominable political beliefs.
The album starts out deceptively well, with the relaxing, lullaby-like "Notes to Lynx." This is the best song on the album. (Tellingly, it's also the only instrumental.) On the next track, the guitars on "Hey Hey" attempt to create a spirited atmosphere which is immediately smothered by the girls' harsh, raspy vocals. As if the sound of their voices wasn't bad enough, their delivery lacks all emotion but boredom, making the upbeat "Hey Hey" sound bitterly sarcastic. ("We're face to face. Oh no. Oh wow.")
After "Hey Hey" ends, The Path We Chose
begins to resemble not a teen pop album so much as a funeral dirge. Song after song with the same lifeless tempo and the same gloomy melodies are further oppressed by the girls' vocals, which range all the way from somewhat listenable ("When I'm With You," "Changes") to near-monotone (every other song) and are further marred by a barely-controlled speech impediment ("white wesistance has wisen"). Lamb, who dominates the album vocally and musically, appears to be going for an Avril Lavigne/Ashley Simpson sound, which doesn't even sound good coming from Avril Lavigne or Ashley Simpson, much less a 13-year-old struggling to stay on-key. It quickly becomes clear that Lynx has a nicer, less raspy voice than Lamb, though unfortunately she sings rarely, and when she does sing, her voice is quiet, weak, and wobbly. However, with some singing lessons and speech therapy, she could eventually sound pretty good.
After three depressing-sounding songs in a row ("The Stranger," "Not a Problem," and "Untitled"), I'm thoroughly conked out. I start to wonder why Prussian Blue is being marketed as bubblegum pop when their real sound is far closer to goth-lite. When the first strains of "Untitled" start up, sounding exactly like "Not a Problem," all I can think is, "Oh God, not another one." "When I'm With You" tries in vain to pick up the pace, but ultimately proves to be too little, too late to save the album. "Ocean of Warriors" is a slight improvement over the rest, though the same tempo, same beat, same tone remains. Their cover of "Green Fields of France" is just flat-out awful. The guitars are consistently out of tune, as is their singing. "Changes" is more of the same, though their voices are a little lighter and they sing with a little more feeling.
One of the worst things about this album, aside from the unrelenting drudgery of the music, is the twins' tendency to sing the same melody at the same time, as if they were a single vocalist. There is literally only one example of harmonizing on the entire album (in the chorus of "Untitled"). It's incredible how much that slight change improves the music. And it's hard to believe that two girls who apparently sought a music career out of their own passion would forgo such basics as two-part harmony when there are, after all, two of them. Actually, come to think of it, if they'd sought a music career out of their own passion, they probably wouldn't sound as bored and depressed as they do.
It's a sad, sad day when the best you can say about a song's lyrics is that they're brain-dead and therefore completely innocuous. Honestly, the best I can say about Lamb's lyrics is that they're not hateful. They're a tweener's mediocre attempts at shallow pop music, exactly the same as the lyrics I wrote when I was her age. The only objectively good thing about them is that they're not about race wars or how cute skinheads are.
Since releasing The Path We Chose
, Prussian Blue has come out with two singles - "Your Daddy," a passive-aggressive shot at their dad who, about a month before the song was released, tried to win custody of them; and "Stand Up," recorded for a Free Matt Hale
tribute album which has yet to be released. (Matt Hale founded the white supremacist group World Church of the Creator, later renamed the Creativity Movement, and was arrested for soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill a federal judge. Lamb and Lynx's younger sister, Dresden Hale, is named for him.) Their singing has improved with their recent discovery of voice projection, but both songs still have the same drudging, goth-lite feel as the songs on The Path We Chose
. Though they are improving slightly, they still aren't good enough to justify releasing albums. They remain at the junior high talent show level, which wouldn't be so bad, given that they are in junior high, if only they weren't trying to pass this effort off as professional.
As one of those rare people who can actually listen to and enjoy both bubblegum pop and goth music, honestly, I could never see myself ever listening to this album for pleasure. I couldn't even see myself listening to it ironically. It's just awful, plain and simple. The only way these girls could ever have any fans at all would be if they happened to belong to a marginalized subculture desperate to repaint its public image as "family friendly." Hmmmm, did I just put my finger on the trigger?