974 - Violent Femmes 'Violent Femmes' (1982)

My Rating: 1.90 out of 5
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die:
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums: X
The Mojo Collection: X

Chart Peak (UK/US): --/--

Favourite Tracks: Blister in the Sun, Kiss Off, Gone Daddy Gone
Least-Favourite Tracks: Please Do Not Go, To the Kill

Well I've known a few violent femmes in my time, but I don't know much about this band. I quite like that though - listening to a record with no preconceived ideas, opinions or other baggage. I also try not to read any reviews or artist biographies until after I've heard the album for myself - just in case my puny viewpoint crumbles under the might of collective critical opinion.

For some reason, I'd imagined this group to be a good deal more sophisticated than they are - probably just because they use a french word in their bandname or they have an arty album cover. Anyway it's not what I expected. For a start, it turns out that I do know something about the band - I recognised the opening track Blister in the Sun straight away - all twangy guitars & a maddeningly catchy riff. I like the acoustic, quasi-rockabilly feel, but like so many songs with instantly infectious tunes I can also imagine tiring of it pretty quickly. (A measure of its catchiness/disposability is that burger chain Wendy's have used it for their adverts). But it's a bright start & the second track Kiss Off continues in a similar vein with more pleasing acoustic bass work & singer Gordon Gano, a cross between Lou Reed & Howard Devoto, continuing to display a certain fey charm.

The problem is as the album progresses its one-dimensional appeal begins to wane; the songwriting starts getting very ordinary, the often tuneless vocal melodies & squeaky intonations start getting irritating, the whimsical lyrics make way for the kind of 'kill the world' nonsense you can read in the margins of a thousand school roughbooks & the musical arrangements never stray far from sounding like some busking trio. (I just read here on Wikipedia that it was actually penned while they were at high school & that they used to busk the songs on street corners so that explains a lot). The album closes out with Good Feeling, a slow number that sounds like a rip-off of Lou Reed's Perfect Day to me & I was left wondering why so many people rate this album so highly. Judging by the gushing customer reviews over at Amazon.com I think I may well have felt differently if I'd been brought up in the US & I'd first heard this when I was fourteen. But I wasn't. When I finished listening to it, I took off my headphones & Avril Lavigne was playing on the radio and I hardly noticed the segue at all. Which is probably not a good thing.


Anonymous said...

take your thumb out of your ass and go ahead and shove your whole fist up there. i bet you can;t play a clitorous much less an instrument. so go jack off to your fucking avril lavigne and leave the reviews to someone who actually has taste, you stupid, stupid, cunt.

Alan Heller said...

Thanks for reading - it's always nice to get intelligent constructive feedback.

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