Galaxie 500
On Fire


2.5
average

Review

by Alex Robertson STAFF
December 31st, 2010 | 42 replies


Release Date: 1989 | Tracklist


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.



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user ratings (176)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
robin EMERITUS (5)
stood in line I had to wait....

AggravatedYeti (4.5)
I stood in line and ate my Twinkie, I stood in line I had to wait....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


15050 Comments


happy new years

Ponton
Emeritus
January 1st 2011


5803 Comments


haha yes

this i can agree with

Yotimi
January 1st 2011


6523 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Haha - love this album in every way

SeaAnemone
January 1st 2011


20520 Comments


love this review so so much

and I can agree with some things here

These guys are bigger pussies than a-ha


like this

Digging: Pharmakon - Bestial Burden

Yotimi
January 1st 2011


6523 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

What about that sax in Decomposing Trees?

Xenophanes
Emeritus
January 1st 2011


10611 Comments


Good review man

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

rasputin
January 1st 2011


14550 Comments


really good review but disanegree

robin
Emeritus
January 1st 2011


4249 Comments


wha?

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


15050 Comments


just gonna staaaand there and waaaatch me burn



robin
Emeritus
January 1st 2011


4249 Comments


generally i really, really like your style but this had way too a cryptic/referential feel for me.

but it's probably because i like this album! also, how is anything about this album pompous?

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


15050 Comments


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.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


15743 Comments


parts i liked, other parts made how hard you were trying very obvious

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

SeaAnemone
January 1st 2011


20520 Comments


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)

robin
Emeritus
January 1st 2011


4249 Comments


this was basically me copping christgau (oh god)


this is exactly what i was going to say.

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!

Gyromania
January 1st 2011


15941 Comments


You're a good writer.

Haven't heard this yet.

Digging: Lantlos - .neon

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


15050 Comments


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?

robin
Emeritus
January 1st 2011


4249 Comments


i don't know anything.

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..........."


robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


15050 Comments


at the very least i did not use phrases like "trance-skronk"

gaslightanthem
January 1st 2011


5209 Comments


please tell me you don't dislike the smiths

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 1st 2011


15050 Comments


haha i think weve already been over this but i'm not the biggest fan. there are a few songs i like, though, and i'd take them over this fo sho



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