Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Sarge

  • Charcoal [Mud, 1996] Neither
  • The Glass Intact [Mud, 1998] A-
  • Distant [Mud, 2000] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Charcoal [Mud, 1996] Neither

The Glass Intact [Mud, 1998]
Roughly pop and crisply punky, this is one of the rare good albums to land tunes first these days, indubitably fresh despite its verse-chorus-verse and guitar-bass-drums. Partly it's the voice of young Elizabeth Elmore--unassuming but never retiring, thoughtful but never moony. Read the lyrics--so much happens so fast that they make a difference, and note that they're printed across the booklet, compelling you to follow word for word instead of scanning down--and you'll encounter not just a sensible girl but a born writer whose subject is love or relationships depending how you look at it. Dissecting one attraction after another, she's still trying to figure that out herself. My advice, fat chance she'll take it: male or female, maybe you should rule out people in bands, dear. A-

Distant [Mud, 2000]
The indie circuit's no life for a girl who's been accepted at law school and wants the kind of relationships that are wrecked by the separations her lyrics dissect. So after four years, Elizabeth Elmore broke up a band that contained no other original members, and this is their testament: three new Elmore songs that could break your heart waiting for more, three goofy covers, two sketchy closers, and a patched-together club set of six songs, five of which sound brighter on 1998's The Glass Intact. Overall, for fans and collectors, I guess--only I'm not so sure this isn't the one I'll play. My favorite moment is on the live solo-acoustic "The First Morning," where dimmer doesn't mean less affecting. "Bye guys--miss you," she offers after the cheers, and comes this close to sobbing, wondering how she'll do without the only relationship the road is good for. A-