Quote-unquote 80s production has always irked me for simple yet indescribable (on paper, that is) reasons; thankfully, bands like Pixies don't let their proverbs reach the lows that their way-too-clean basslines do (one of my favorite bands, keep reading). But when the lyrical obscurantism (Pixies, yes) and timidity (Pixies, no; Smiths and this ***ing band, yes) start to match the fog that some poor sucker like Mark Kramer set behind the mixing table, and especially when that fog starts to get reciprocated all around every aspect of the record--the melodies, please, no, not the melodies!--I start thinking that maybe this is a decade deserving of its antihype. Then I start to wonder where the hype came from at all. These guys are bigger pussies than a-ha, for Christ's sake. These melodies (and the instruments, and then also everything else) are so pompously camouflaged that the best ones ("Strange") seem stolen, and the very best one ("Isn't It a Pity") actually is.
The lyrics are similarly obscure, not only in that Dean Wareham sings like he's been chewing on a full pack of Trident Spearmint for a week, but also in that, even if he spit it out, we'd still have lines like "I stood in line and ate my Twinkies / I stood in line, I had to wait," which would be all well and good if I didn't constantly feel pressured into contemplating on what he might Really Mean. If you really feel the need, listen to the album in backwards order (i.e., beginning w/ the Harrison cover), and then stop after the first song ends. You've successfully covered all the ground this band seems capable of covering, and you don't need to slog through the really bad guitar solo (not Yo La Tengo-bad but Bad-bad) slathered onto "When Will You Come Home". Sad, sort of; it's the only moment on the album where the band sound like they're trying. Yawn.
this review was basically me copping christgau (oh god)
the "pompous" thing is admittedly hard to describe but something about the production and the lyrics
and all that being intentionally obscured just, to me, comes off as a way too deliberate attempt to
cross from "pop" (for which this album would have been mediocre, anyways) to"art-pop" (for which it's
this!). maybe just me, though. seems gimmicky to me; i'm a grumpy old man.
wish this review was a tad longer... some points you sorta lost me too... and I thought I was gonna wholeheartedly agree with this, too, because I don't really see the same beauty that Robin and others see (sorry Robin)
i definitely read this album differently to you. the production is flat and the lyrics are obscured, but it's not 'art pop'. it's jsut that the only thing you need to take into account is wareham taking everything completely overboard. you don't need actual lyrics, you need melodrama.
and i really feel like the whole 'all the songs are the same' argument is tired because there are 100 albums i love every song and cant tell one from the next. marquee moon, for one, and let's not forget is this it. i can't have 'isnt it a pity' without 'another day'.
but i get where you're coming from completely and so forth!
idk i dont find all the songs on marquee moon (one of my favorite albums, now) "sound the same" (torn curtain -> the title track?), at least not to the point of banality. the thing is is that i just sort of don't like this album, find it boring, all that, and the most logical explanation to me is that "all the songs sound the same" (which they do). i think it's important that you know it's not the other way around (i.e., i found that all the songs sound the same, and from that concluded that i didnt like it). i guess it's basically "all the songs sound the same" isnt necessarily a reason, but here it's more an explanation. yea?
that's fair. =) it just seems like a shame to me that when you explain it as you just did i completely accept where you're coming from but in the review it feels like you're shooting too much to assert it, rather than explain it. i guess we all do it (i'm sure i do), but i'd like to see you say what you just said, personally, and not like this: "No one has made more of bohemian easy-listening--cocktail samba, trance-skronk, good old-fashioned slow ones than Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, boho dream couple and cultural miniaturists. From t..........."