Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Share The Joy

This blog isn't called Not Unloved for nothing. Recently I've read a bunch of lukewarm or even downright negative reviews of the latest Vivian Girls record, "Share The Joy" (Polyvinyl), so it seems only right that somebody shows them that they're not unloved.  I bought it yesterday - not exactly quick off the mark, I know - and after a few plays I just don't understand the gripes. It's possible, maybe, that a little part of me is championing the underdog but, really, there's nothing on "Share The Joy" that sounds limp or under-cooked or uninspired.  That's not to say that it's the greatest recorded work since wax cylinders but it's certainly not worthy of derision nor to be greeted with disappointment or a shrug of the shoulders and dismissed as just another Vivian Girls record.  Sure, they've made 3 broadly similar albums in their short career to date, but each one has been different enough from its predecessor and moved their sound forward enough to be worthwhile and to not be considered a retread.  It's to their credit that they've stuck to their core sound.  I'd rather they did that than go all overblown and Smashing Pumpkins on us or take to producing chill-wavelets or whatever genre Altered Zones is soiling itself over these days.  It feels like their main crime is to not be the new thing any more.  I'll bet that if they had cheekily sneaked out "Dance (If You Wanna)" as the debut single by a fictitious group, a bunch of bloggers - Not Unloved included - would've written enthusiastically of its innocent peppiness. Mind you, when I heard lead single "I Heard You Say" I was taken by it immediately.  Had its guitar solo graced a private-press wimp scuzz side from 1967, I suspect that folks would've talked glowingly of its primitive emotional pull.  It's beautifully recorded, too; just the right fidelity.  There have been some snide remarks about the playing on the record.  For example, Pitchfork decried Cassie Ramone's soloing on "The Other Girls" as being 'flat and stiff as dry spaghetti' .  Listening to it, however, I was struck by how unbearable it could have been had it been played by some pompous (probably male) goon with a whopping ego and a girning face intent on ramming more notes than necessary into every second.  Give me Cassie Ramone's rudimentary soulfulness over that any day!  Rather than addressing each of the negative comments I've read in turn, I'll just finish by saying that I'm relieved that I didn't let those comments deter me from buying "Share The Joy" as it has enough pop thrills and charm to earn it a place in my affections and a good few plays.

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