The Constant Lover EP
irst, a few truisms, do with them what you will:
1) Music critics (that is, rock critics, to say nothing of the sad bastards who cover jazz or classical) are overwhelmingly male in number.That said, this reviewer would like to utterly wash his hands of the problems some male reviewers may face in reviewing the work of a band whose members are uniformly attractive and female. There is, of course, the possibility that sex will cloud a reviewer’s judgement, in either a positive direction or a negative one. The Donnas actually wrote a song about it, challenging some unnamed Bay Area schmuck: “You wanna meet me / But you wrote a bad review of our show / If you don't like us / What are you doing standing in the front row?” On the other hand, at least part of the success of groups ranging from the Runaways to the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s must have stemmed from some sad reviewers pitiable belief that “surely this 4-star review will win her love! I compared her to Debbie Harry!” Incidentally, have you picked up Fever To Tell yet? Great album, man.
2) Men who collect things, especially things many women find boring (I’m sure guys who collect Italian sports cars don’t have this problem), are not known for being successful with women.
3) Men who review music for a living, members of the group touched on in point #2 practically to a man (know-nothing hacks at Rolling Stone excluded), do not date girls in bands. At least not the good-looking ones.
4) The Magneta Lane are hot.
But if I can return to the album I’m actually supposed to be reviewing, let me say that this is one male reviewer who judges music on purely on its own merits. I listen to Team Dresch, for chrissakes. With that out of the way, let’s get down to the business of tearing The Constant Lover to pieces.
I don’t like this album. I might go so far as to say I “hate” it, except it seems too small and insignificant for that. I don’t like the boring, monotonous songs. I don’t like the way Lexi Valentine (vocals/guitar) tries to pass off her half-assed vocals as sexy or cool, or the way the rhythm section seem so aware of their status as Valentine’s window-dressing that they don’t even try. I don’t like hearing the same lyrics about girls who give too much away and all the other mainstays of so-called “chick rock.” I’m also not impressed at the way The Magneta Lane have shamelessly ripped-off one of my favourite contemporary acts, Pretty Girls Make Graves. But most importantly, I don’t like the blatant careerism of this EP, and of this band. Everything about them feels calculated, which goes a long way towards explaining how they got signed after playing 11 shows. I can tolerate a lot of things in a band, but a naked lust for commercial success isn’t one of them. Of all The Magneta Lane’s and The Constant Lover’s many failings, it is perhaps that lust that is most offensive of all. Especially when paired with the fact that, put simply, this is yet another album that offers nothing new, says nothing new, and contributes nothing new. They manage to rip-off any number of hard-working bands that will probably be left in the Magneta Lane’s dust as these fame-hungry vampires claw their way to the top. Buyer beware."
I wrote those above words a few months ago, when I was first applying to join the Stylus bird-gang. Since then, I’ve been living a sort of rock critic’s nightmare. A local band that I casually trashed, assuming their promo CD was just one out of many others, have been garnering a steady buzz. They were, in fact, just featured on MuchMusic’s The New Music program, in the same company as Fat Joe and M.I.A. Clearly, something is going seriously wrong here, and I owe it to you, the music-buying public, to do something about it.
Basically, I was right then and I’m right now. This is not a good band, and it is not a good EP. The Magneta Lane are basically ripping off Pretty Girls Make Graves but giving it a vaguely dancepunk-ish sheen. For some reason, this merits a ridiculous amount of critical buzz (at least in Canada) and comparisons to the Strokes.
I probably can’t stop the horror at this point. Canada being Canada, I’m sure I’ll be (not) watching these mediocrities on the Juno awards (our Grammy’s) in a year or two, with statues being handed to them by Raine Maida and Chad Kroeger. Oh, and Nelly Furtado. Damn you, Canada.
Reviewed by: Ryan Hardy
Reviewed on: 2005-03-23