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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
New Young Pony Club
Fantastic Playroom
Modular

Rating: 5.1/10 ?


August 1, 2007
Coldness: weird tool. Punks use it to be sexy, like Elastica, or to appear intellectual, like Wire. Brian Eno and LCD Soundsystem affect their vocals like detached scientists, for a kind of meta-joke on hipsters. And coldness is always ripe for the remixing; in clubland, stuff like Tracy Thorn's new single, where she intones about "raising the roof" in a voice that rings hollow as an empty gin bottle, goes over well. My favorite "cold" vocal ever: the tone-deaf rapper(?) guy OMC, who is the only uncontrolled variable on his own worldwide hit, "How Bizarre," a tightly wound concoction of cooing backup femmes, flamenco guitar, Spanish horns, and one of those mid 90s hiphop beats that Alanis used to be all over. He sounds like he doesn't even know there's a song there, like he's talking to someone on the phone he can barely hear. In any case, all of these "cold" voices lend something to the recordings - a persona, a robot, an attitude.

Tahita Bulmer, the singer of New Young Pony Club, is a whole new breed of cold. She sounds bored with her band, like she came up with a bunch of goofy song titles in her room with some friends during a slumber party ("Jerk Me," "Get Lucky") and now she's twirling her hair, waiting for the "serious" friends to finish recording so they can go the mall and buy some new gum. It reminds one of the mega-huge All-American Rejects, whose singer (I didn't feel like looking up the prick's name, and no one will remember it in five years anyway) makes clear in interviews that he's not actually into music all that much, and you can tell from his rather rote, readymade-sounding hits.

Luckily, the icy joylessness with which Bulmer humors her band's recordings doesn't ruin everything, shockingly enough. Fantastic Playroom's opening track, "Get Lucky," rides a pleasing 1980s snare-and-cowbell snap all the way through a surging chorus that her roboticism actually enhances. Never mind that she sounds disappointed to bring you a glass of water, much less "all her love." She sounds kind of like Pat Benatar impersonating Bob Dylan and Liz Phair at the same time, a woeful combination that, as you presumed, gets wearing as the album Playroom wears on. The synth-fraught "The Bomb" is the only other instance that NYPC seems able to harness that kind of engaging pulse.

Bulmer rarely breaks from her refrigerated pose, but when she actually does, you wish she didn't; the "yay-yay" chanting that caps "Hiding on the Staircase," makes like the world's laziest M.I.A. impression. Not that her comfort zone is any more comforting. "Ice Cream" makes her indifference painfully obvious, though, despite a trampoline-like bassline's best attempt to start a party. "Jerk Me" and "Grey" suffer from the same tuneless purgatory, though some warbly chorus harmonies half save the former. But the moronic "Fan" will only be sexy to people who don't see a reflection when they look in the mirror. Worst of all for a dance record, the tacked-on cowbell most of the tunes should benefit harder from sounds too little too late. I wouldn't be surprised if it was live, but it might as well be looped. I'm positive the singing usually is.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss

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