The Affair
Yes Yes to You
Absolutely Kosher
2007
B+



forget the Affair’s alluring, sonic hooks—magnetic keyboards that gaily hiccup, galvanic guitars that prance and peacock. Forget all that, because singer Kali Holloway is more of a hook than any beatific sound in The Affair’s catalog.

Last year, the tastemakers’ fingers danced lithely across keyboards whenever Holloway’s name was uttered, as the vocalist’s pipes and polish garnered gobs of lofty comparisons to punk-era divas Deborah Harry, Siouxsie Sioux, and Poly Styrene. But on the group’s full-length debut, Yes Yes to You, Holloway is channeling neither Sioux nor Styrene. During gigs, the villainous Sioux, decked in raven black eyeliner, crouched on her haunches at the edge of the stage like a menacing chimera atop a Gothic cathedral. Holloway, meanwhile, is playfully (and carnally) threatening, willing to nibble on a neck, but never follow with a blood-drawing bite. In “The Chase,” she unabashedly confesses to her prey, “I’m on the warpath / And all I wanna do is you.”

Sassy, coquettish, and lad-obsessed—“I just tend to write about boys,” she said in an interview, “cute boys, boys you like, boys that hurt your feelings”—Holloway is teenage fickle in “Wait for It,” delivers orgasmic “ooooohs” near the close of “Dead Letters,” and has lyrics in the aforementioned “The Chase” that will make your eyebrows crawl (“I promise service with a smile”).

Holloway can carry a tune, but can’t carry the album. Yes Yes to You is ultimately slowed by the band’s descent into post-Interpol moodiness on tracks such as “Red and White” and “Swallow the Nights”: the former brimming with aimless tension, the latter a cloying Editors effigy. It’s unnatural; the Affair isn’t the nervy disquiet that pervades the beginning of a Sadie Hawkins dance: hand-in-the-pocket boys on one side of the hall, hair-twirling girls on the other. The Affair is that jubilant, unifying, sweat-dripping last boogey, wristwatch-checking parents in the parking lot honking on horns.

Power pop is the group’s specialty: keyboard leads that remind one of the Cars, Franz Ferdinand-like guitars tucked neatly into the background—‘60s bubblegum being chewed and snapped by ‘80s new wavers (exhibited on the brilliant single “Andy”). So forget the previously mentioned punk comparisons: With a seductive, sometimes vulnerable, pixie-like Holloway in the fore, the Affair are the Shivvers reborn, a lost Midwest outfit resurrected by Chuck Warner’s Hyped2Death label.

Only I doubt “lost” will ever be attached as a prefix when describing the Affair. The memorable and trashy siren’s call of Holloway all but ensures that.



Reviewed by: Ryan Foley
Reviewed on: 2007-01-09
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