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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
The Jealous Girlfriends
The Jealous Girlfriends
Good Fences

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


May 9, 2008
Most of us have had the (dis)pleasure of dating a jealous significant other or two in our respective love lives, or perhaps have ourselves even been that insanely mistrustful part of a pair, capable of sapping good vibes out of nearly any situation. On their eponymous sophomore album, New York quartet The Jealous Girlfriends explore the twisted nature of their namesakes. A solid and at times engaging album, The Jealous Girlfriends follows Uncomfortably Comfortable, the band's 2005 self-released debut.

Throughout the album's eleven tracks, The Jealous Girlfriends traffic in the often-profitable medium of alternating female/male vocal arrangements, la much of Stars' material. This strategy works well, particularly given the band's moniker and the album's title, and the effect leads to a back-and-forth narrative of sorts between a feuding boyfriend and girlfriend. We see this strain played out throughout many of the songs, such as on the intriguing "Organs on the Kitchen Floor" and "I Quit." The former is a dirty, devious noir epic that recalls Fiona Apple's "Criminal." On the latter tack, the narrator, stung and tired of the relationship, attempts to hurt his mate's ego, stating: "Well I must confess/ that you taste no different from any of the rest." On "How Now," the male half is again on the offensive: "You can bury me with your bullets and your smile/ they're one in the same/ I won't blame you/ for trying."

The lyrics and vocals are the two greatest strengths of The Jealous Girlfriends' second album. There are some excellent falsetto harmonies on "The Pink Wig To My Solieri," the album's most entrancing (and oddly-named) track. Holly Miranda has such a gorgeous voice that it is hard not to wish that she be placed front-and-center on every track. Josh Abbott's vocals are not as endearing, though they are strikingly similar to those of TV on the Radio front man Tunde Adebimpe. The Jealous Girlfriends also channel some of the 1990s-era grunge energy of Hole and that dog on tracks like "Secret Identity," which, honestly, feels remarkably refreshing. The guitars are mostly grungy and simple, though synthesizers, light looping, and the occasional drum machine beat all add welcome depth to the largely straightforward rock effort.

A particularly haunting track is "Hieroglyphics," which is powered by Sonic Youth-esque guitars and lingering ambient sounds. The Jealous Girlfriends make the poignant point that navigating the overtures of the dating game can often be as daunting as decoding the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians: without a key to guide us through the mysterious language, there's not much chance of understanding what is right in front of us. The album ends with some hope on "Carry Me," a quiet, contemplative piece.

There are moments of weakness on The Jealous Girlfriends, however, such as "Something In The Water," a middling track that never really takes off, wandering through largely uninspired guitar work. On several tracks, the guitars come across as unfocused and domineering, obfuscating the rest of the instrumentation and/or the vocals. Most of the tracks, however, are arranged and mixed very well. In fact, The Jealous Girlfriends could be seen as part of the indie resurgence on the idea of the true album format, and is really meant to be listened to in a complete sitting, as the tracks flow into one another for a near-cohesive effort.

The Jealous Girlfriends is a compelling, well-constructed look into the nature of jealousy and relationships. The songs are well crafted and the musicianship, overall, is solid. The album rocks at times but also exhibits quiet and thoughtful moments. The album's primary constraint is the guitar work, which is rarely remarkable, while the vocals, piano, synthesizers, and other sounds truly make the album something worth listening to. At times it feels like there are two or more bands at work on the album, more in competition with each other than complementary. Yet despite some issues of balance, this is an album, and a band, to take note of.

Reviewed by Eric J. Morgan
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Eric J. Morgan is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Colorado. He has an orange cat named Nelson and longs for the day when men and women will again dress in three-piece suits and pretty dresses to indulge in three-martini lunches and afternoon affairs.

See other reviews by Eric J. Morgan

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