I've noticed a disturbing trend with my output here. Most of the films are horrible. Really horrible. And yet I sit through them, just so I can write a horrible review. However, the music reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Why is it that I am willing to sit through 100 minutes of visual pablum, but will stop listening to a subpar album within mere moments of determining just how bad it is? Something's clearly wrong.
So, in an order to correct this imbalance, here is a review of a pretty darn mediocre album. Now, in order to overcome my impulse to cease listening to a bad album, I selected an album that should have been one of the best of the year.
The 6ths, for those who don't know, is yet another project by Stephin Merritt, best known for his main project, The Magnetic Fields, which is one of the better pop bands operating today. However, Merritt prefers to have others sing his songs, and so was born the 6ths. The previous album, Wasps' Nest, contained brilliant pop songs sung by a variety of indie-rock superstars, such as Lou Barlow, Georgia Hubley, Dean Wareham, and Chris Knox. All in all a fine album.
Sadly, the follow-up is a significant departure from the last. Instead of attempting to produce a good album, they have decided to release a bad one. Really bad. A lot of the fault comes from the choice of guest singers. Some are selected along the same lines as the first (e.g, Clare Grogan, Bob Mould, Sally Timms), but most of the tracks are sung by Stephin Merritt's artistic twins (Momus, Marc Almond, Neil Hannon) or older artists that are well past their prime (Dominique A, Odetta, Melanie). This alone would make for a mediocre album, but the songwriting drops it down to utter trash. Merritt has always had a fondness for slow ballads, but here they sink down to Neil Diamond level (and not in a good "Sweet Caroline" way, but in an excreable "Turn On Your Heartlight" kind of way)
While the first album managed to overcome the "celebrity karaoke" feel that the concept lends itself to, this album feels like being trapped in a highly-recommended bar that can't mix a decent Tom Collins.
Rating: F (28.5%)Reviewed by Padgett Arango