Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Brains

  • The Brains [Mercury, 1980] A-
  • Electronic Eden [Mercury, 1981] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Brains [Mercury, 1980]
From Steve Lillywhite's loud-with-portent upscale of the perfect "Money Changes Everything" to two atrocious Alfredo Villar songs that would fit fine on a Queen album, their magnified shortcomings are an object lesson in major label meets new wave--the compromises undermine art and commerce simultaneously. Fortunately, Tom Gray's gray matter prevails--life has blessed him with a college education and proximity to the Sex Pistols' U.S. debut. Unlike the power-pop boys, he's seen down to the woman underneath his girls, and just because he plays organ doesn't mean he can't punch it up. Lost rock and rollers in a provincial capital, the Brains are the real Iron City Houserockers--forward-looking yet tradition-drenched entertainment. A-

Electronic Eden [Mercury, 1981]
Put in enough time with this one and despite its dull initial impact every track will give up a hook--a dull hook, perhaps, but in these brite days there's a kind of satisfaction in that. The problem is that the hooks don't connect to much--when the most memorable lyric on the follow-up is about how that guy has got her hypnotized, you begin to wonder just what money has changed, and how. B