hen a PR invokes Bowie it’s painful because I immediately think of Velvet Goldmine, which sucked and was the film I rented to mollify an ex once after a regrettable incident of domestic violence where I attacked her with what I drunkenly thought was a live chicken. I could tell it was a bad film even though I wasn’t paying attention, as I was too busy applying ointment to her fresh stumps while she reminded me that real chickens aren’t connected to extension cables.
The A.M.’s debut is more Human Highway than V.G. though. That was the Neil Young flick with Devo as a radiation clean-up crew. The tracks here are a series of sneaks squirting symphonic curlicues onto a new-wave muffin tray with the doughy shit taken out for maximum thin-ness of tone and at its best reminds me very much of Cars tunes like “Dangerous Type” or “All Mixed Up”. Making a glam version of On the Beach is a great idea. Every dying off-interstate town has at least one resident who painted their nails once and never added another coat so they have chipped bluish residue on their fingers that looks like they slammed a car door on them.
This bunch is from New York though, which makes the double-headed asparagus-cross logo on the back even more puzzling. Maybe it’s a reference to phenylthalanine, the stuff that causes odd-smelling urine. Phenylketonuria is an autosomal recessive disorder, caused by mutations in both alleles of the gene for phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH), found on chromosome 12, the most obvious symptom being mental retardation. People with this condition, as well as being retarded, have odd-smelling urine all the time. I used to think that if I ate enough asparagus then I would get to be retarded and then get to take the short bus to the ‘special needs’ class where they wouldn’t give me so many difficult assignments. This review is the way it is because I ate the cover.
The best song is the last one (“Colors are Beginning to Deepen”), in which David ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’ Crosby wakes up, spots a harmonium and decides it’s Nico. Do harmoniums have lids that can slam shut on fingers and make them blue? “Trangression” is a backhanded anti-indie construction revealing the Strokes and Flaming Lips as the same people while “Chanay” does the same for Suicide and Keith Richards solo albums, except with not quite as much vocal belligerence. Perhaps these are the best eclecticians since Spoon. (The band or the record label?)
Reviewed by: Dave Queen
Reviewed on: 2004-01-26