Review Summary: Junk food forever
I have to admit, the Amazons had me fooled for a bit. Perhaps it was the striking, incendiary cover of their self-titled debut album, which evoked a certain feverish passion (not to mention its resemblance to a 2016 punk album that very much lived up to its blazing cover art), but in the first minute or so of opener “Stay With Me,” I noticed something raw, honest, and rousing that, in retrospect, was never really there. Make no mistake, The Amazons
is nothing more than a collection of inoffensive, color-by-numbers radio rock. The songwriting is consistently pedestrian, utilizing a standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure, predictable chord progressions, and lyricism that ranges from mediocre to straight-up amateur. The album is, in the band’s own words, “junk food forever.”
Of course, this isn’t a problem in and of itself. Pop stars from the Beatles to Carly Rae Jepsen have proven that simple songs can still evoke big emotions and complex emotions alike. And even when simplicity isn’t poignant, it can still be enjoyable; there is, after all, something comforting about chowing down on a Big Mac. The aforementioned “Stay With Me” is no “Run Away With Me,” but its chorus does carry a certain warmth that makes it the tiniest bit satisfying. Instead, the problem with The Amazons
is that the band never elevates any of their songs beyond mildly pleasant to make the listener actually feel anything. Occasionally they might try for something slightly more novel or complex, such as the guitar riff in “In My Mind” or the titular lyric from “Junk Food Forever,” but the rarity of these elements and the half-assed approach with which they’re executed just make them feel confusingly out-of-place and highlight the banality surrounding them. It took writing this review for me to realize that “Junk Food Forever” is probably about eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in order to cope with a breakup, and I’m still not sure about that interpretation because the band makes no effort to actually tell the story that connects junk food and loneliness in a meaningful way. And when the listener isn’t shaking their head at lazy, baffling choices like these, the music is simply passing through them.
If these criticisms only applied to a single or an EP worth of songs, they would be problematic but forgivable. The fact that they permeate an entire full-length album make it a bore and a chore to listen to. Multiple times in the course of listening to The Amazons
, I found myself needing to stop and refresh my musical palate with something more substantive and interesting. Like junk food, consuming too much music by the Amazons makes one realize just how bland and processed it all is, and creates a feeling of exhaustion and regret, such that even the once-standout opening track yields diminishing returns. The fiery cover of The Amazons
may have briefly tricked me into thinking the album might live up to its promises, but now I want to wrest it away from the band’s grasp and gift it to an album more vital.