Girls Against Boys - Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby
For a time, the honour seemed to have gone to Washington D.C. based outfit, Girls Against Boys. They began with a line up which consisted of two bass guitars, which resulted in a much denser and sludgier sound than could have been managed with just one. This was then coupled with vocals which sounded as if they had been drawn from that space half way between a laryngitic whisper and the growling of a metal vocalist. All of this was wrapped up in some melodies which were clearly the poppier side of noise and what resulted was in some ways a quite unique combination.
This is a sultry-sounding record, obsessed with sex and more sex, which hauls itself up into your speakers and then oozes out, enveloping you in a sometimes overpowering, stifling, über-sensual sound that never lets up but also never fully seeks to drown out your own personality and emotional response. What it does is to amplify your own feelings of the moment: feeling sad - this will make you depressed; feeling happy - this will exhilarate you; feeling horny - this will make you gag for it.
However, that is not always a good thing. The music, all too often tends to take on the characteristics of the moment and the person. It is almost as if everyone can relate to this and everyone relates to it on their own level and in their own way. No matter how many times I hear this, I never seem to hear the same record twice. My mood changes and the mood this evokes in me, and therefore the way I listen to it and what I listen out of in it, changes every time. It is, at the end of the day, quite frustrating and in that sense deeply unsatisfying as a coherent listening experience.
Yet there are some good tracks on here. Those tracks which seem to have gained the most attention are those where the band's feelings of aggression and fustration shine through - tracks such as "Seven Seas" and "Bulletproof Cupid". But in my view, the band is best when it has slowed things down a little and is taking more care. "In Like Flynn" is a pretty good way to open the album, even if it is a little on the unsubtle side, and typifies this, though there are other tracks where the slower pace works well such as "Satin Down" and "Bug House".
Perhaps the biggest problem I have with this, however, is that it comes from an age whose time has passed. This is very much an album of its age. The political and social commentary of hardcore had been replaced with a slow burning hedonistic ennui which permeated the youth of the States. It was this which spawned grunge - almost out of a feeling of hoplessness. It is almost as if Girls Against Boys were offering upo a different vision of that same impetus which drove grunge. The difference is, their vision got left behind. As a consequence, this album is something of an oddity - all things to all people but in reality a lot of something that never was.
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