Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Vaselines

  • The Way of the Vaselines: A Complete History [Sub Pop, 1992] A-
  • Sex With an X [Sub Pop, 2010] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Way of the Vaselines: A Complete History [Sub Pop, 1992]
Sloppy, silly, barely on the four much less the one, the 19-song studio output of Kurt Cobain's favorite obscure pub band is one of those punk miracles that makes you think anyone can do it just when you were convinced nobody ever would again. The pro in potentia is Eugene Kelly, now of Eugenius; the genius is his then-girlfriend Frances McKee. Toon topics include an acid trip, a dead cat, Catholicism, and coitus, which undergoes an array of ironically far-out genderfuck jokes that bespeak detailed experience of actual fucking. Kelly says the group broke up over "sexual differences." I'm sure he deserved no better. A-

Sex With an X [Sub Pop, 2010]
Back when Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly were charming the eyelashes off Kurt Cobain, they were a couple, and when they stopped being one they stopped being the Vaselines. Twenty years later give or take, they were friendly exes who'd never really found anything better to do. So to have some fun and pick up a spot of change, they got together and, no longer able to extrude their couplehood, instead said "Let's write some Vaselines songs." Title notwithstanding, there's somewhat less sex in these, and listeners who set store in self-expression might conclude that the slight dip in urgency reflects the new material's factitious origins. Compared to so many reunion albums, however, it's like they never left. Simple, funny, acerbic, tuneful, they're a cabaret act for people who can't play their instruments but have some facile friends with nothing better to do either. B+