The Vietnam War “The Vietnam War”

I guess it’s good not to hear a bunch of noise musicians trying to score girls without even learning to play their instruments, but this is lacking in excitement. It’s reminiscent of a Lil’ Chief recording: while it’s cool that NZ indie music has expanded beyond lo-fi jangliness (thought that stuff is great, of course), the end result is just too bland. I know some of the people in these well-recorded, smooth bands, and they’re complex: cynical, honest, passionate, tempestuous, often horrible, but they produce music with dishonest lyrics about sweet love and mild yearning, and, of course, the music itself reflects this stale, boring dishonesty. What’s it like to be a drunk, poor person in Auckland? Specifically? What do you drink? What do you really think of your friends and your girlfriend? Tell me, I want to know! I don’t want to hear some vague stuff about being “at the mercy of fate”. Is that what you’d really say to your pal? That you’re “at the mercy of fate”? And why talk about heaven and hell — just cause those are tropes of country music? Is that really what you think or talk about?

It’s worth talking about these flaws because this music is obviously so well-intentioned: it’s too gloomy to be graspingly commercial, and it’s great that there’s an intention to make something beautiful rather than to sell at any cost. But ‘truth is beauty’: you can’t make up this country music facade, then plaster it over the front of your house, and expect people to find it attractive. We all know what’s behind the front door. You, sitting on the couch, watching Juice TV and moaning about Beyonce. Your life isn’t backwoods-beautiful. Country music can be authentic even if it’s not made in the Appalachians — Palace works because of its honest American historical consciousness, and Smog is simply honest. But as in those cases, it’s necessary to adapt, rather than to simply imitate. [B-]

6 Comments

  1. Where the hell did that [B-] come from? Seriously left-field after all the moping.

    • kthnx says:

      thought the same thing, I coulda done with a whole second half explaining why despite all the things she doesn’t like, ‘this is why it still gets a B-‘. expected something in the D to C range after that.

  2. NZZZZZZ says:

    To summarise.

    Theres one thing she doesn’t like: A lack of honesty/ authenticity in the lyrics. The reviewer explains this in detail.

    On the plus side, she appreciates the intention to ‘make something beautiful rather than sell at any cost’. Ultimately this intention was seriously marred (in the reviewers opinion) for the reason already given above.

    That is why I think the record got the mark it got.

  3. phone says:

    i like this review.

  4. It’s like this review doesn’t even talk about anything, doesn’t mention a song name or talk about any lyrics in particular. It’s like she wrote the review without listening to the record.

  5. Endsongs says:

    The review tells me more about the reviewer than the album. And more than I care to know about the reviewer thank you. Fortunately I have the album so I can make my own mind up. I played it twice. I have also seen them live twice. I prefered seeing them live. Something to watch.

    But I would prefer to listen to the album (which is a bit dull, in a pleasantly jangly way) than meet the reviewer and have an interminable conversation about lyrical honesty/ authenticity and what people drink in Auckland or what the think of their girl/boyfriends.

    It is, after all, only rock and roll. Lyrical honesty/ authenticity is an optional extra.

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