Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band: Take Me to the Land of Hell [Chimera Music, 2013]
Recorded in the six months preceding Ono's 80th birthday and released seven months after it, this is a quantum livelier and more assured than Between My Head and the Sky, Ono's 2009 album with her and Sean's revival of her and John's band/concept. In fact, it outstrips 1981's Season of Glass and 1995's Rising, surely her two standouts from a pop perspective. In other words, this justly renowned avant-pop figurehead not only made a good album as she looked 80 in the face, she made her best album, separated from her previous peak by 18 years, which was separated in turn from its previous peak by 14 years. That's what I call a life. Crucially, failed frontman Sean mirrors the boss's artistic appetite and force of personality by overseeing a studio-rock that's as eclectic as it is unified. There are clubby beats and avant-noise and straight rock guitar; there's a song that starts with little bells and a song that anchors his mom's ululations to bassy avant-funk. Of course she preaches peace and bemoans her desolation and tells us to dream. But my two faves are both quite funny for an artist some stupidly pigeonhole as pretentious: "Bad Dancer" and "Leaving Tim." Both are about what they say they're about, and delighted as I am that a Fluxus grad who's been known to flirt with EDM should giggle about breaking a leg, I'm even more delighted to hear an old woman break off snippily and light-heartedly from her latest boyfriend. A-