Review Summary: One of grunge's most deeply buried masterpieces
With the apathetic chants of "la la la la la," the show Daria began in 1997 and introduced a truly memorable female heroine to a generation of disaffected and alienated youths. In complete contrast to its predecessor Beavis and Butthead, which almost entirely revolved around using dumb humor that mocked that aforementioned generation, Daria was a much smarter and more unique show. The show was predominantly sarcastic and cynical, especially toward people who actually fit in with more conventional groups and social classes, which made it perfect for the floaters who were misunderstood throughout their lives. However, even for the people it doesn't necessarily relate to with these things, it was still relatable through well-instated messages and phenomenal writing. THAT is why the show still has such a dedicated cult following to this day, as well as how many memorable characters are included in the mix. Plus, it's one of the only cartoon sitcoms that has consistent continuity threading each episode and season. But first impressions do matter too, so let's get back to that opening line, "la la la la la."
Splendora were brought in to make the theme song to this show, "You're Standing on My Neck," which would become an instantly recognizable feature of the show for years. Unfortunately though, we have a case of a band who was only famous for this one song and the rest of their tunes remain cult gems; with that said, In the Grass may just be one of the most obscure grunge records ever made. The cheapest copy of this record on Amazon.com goes for 30 dollars, and the only copy Ebay displays goes for almost 200 dollars! It's a sad case indeed, seeing as In the Grass also might be one of the most enjoyable records in the genre. If I were to describe In the Grass' sound, I'd probably say this: imagine you're listening to a Nirvana record (In Utero era) that got eaten up by The Beach Boys and regurgitated as something resembling Courtney Love's band Hole. Either that, or imagine Quasi with a grungier vibe. The rawness and brooding generally characteristic of the genre are certainly present here, but there's a very classic rock 'n' roll feel reminiscent of 60s surf rock; there's also a lot of 70s punk to mix things up. To put it simply: don't listen to this band if you're looking for the sludgier or more doomy side of grunge... you won't hear it here. With that said, I really haven't found an album or band that completely
resembles this anyway; noise pop and grunge would probably be the best labels, though.
Beyond the uniqueness, however, the best thing on offer comes in the form of frontwomen Janet and Tricia Wygal's beautiful vocal harmonies. No matter whether the song is extremely hard-hitting (like "Reanimator") or a somber ballad (like "Rocker"), these falsetto-laden melodies make very frequent experiences and add to the album's carefree atmosphere. It's safe to say that without the vocal deliveries, In the Grass wouldn't be nearly as good as it is. Yeah, there are other great things found here, such as "Rattle" with its mix of beautiful string playing and punk-inspired guitar riffing, or the really neat bassline that supports the slow crawl of "It's Great." But when these moments are combined with those seductive and beautiful vocals, everything seems to be elevated a bit. Plus, the lyrics further display why the band were such a great one to commission for Daria; all the cynicism and sarcasm is here in full force. But here's the thing: other female or female-fronted bands of the time like Hole or Seven Year Bitch were adept and turning these themes into a more angsty and dark experience, but Splendora broke tradition by using a more lighthearted and humorous approach to their lyricism. "Breeze," for instance, describes someone who's constantly going between interest and disinterest in presumably a love interest, saying things like, "How can I desert you? It's not more than you can take. It's not hard to hurt you; baby, it's a piece of cake."
Despite sounding a bit like a time capsule of the 90s and the attitudes expressed back then, In the Grass has a timeless feel in its songwriting and overall style. There are no experimental frills or moments of excess either; the whole thing is chock-full of tightly written grunge and punk tunes that will appeal to most people associated with either genre... that is, as long as you don't take it too seriously. It's a damn fun album and you should have fun hearing it too. Whether you enjoy Daria or not (besides "You're Standing on My Neck" isn't on here), this is one of the best grunge albums out there and shouldn't go unnoticed any longer.
La la la la la
la la la la la
la la la la la