Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Front 242

  • Official Version [Wax Trax, 1987] B-
  • Front by Front [Wax Trax, 1988] B-
  • Never Stop [Wax Trax EP, 1989] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Official Version [Wax Trax, 1987]
This Belgian bund's bad reputation isn't a simple function of safe-and-saners' deplorable tendency to brand powerful art they don't like fascist (viz. Albert Goldman on the Rolling Stones, 1969). In a time that demands consciousness, mobilization, taking sides, apolitical objectivism is objectively, comme on dit, reactionary. But with their stated aim of transforming received information into powerful aural images, they're aggressive-passive as opposed to passive-aggressive. The worst you could say of them is that they'd try to make their way no mater who took over--and become antifascist six months too late. As far as they're concerned, of course, the worst you could say of them is that their club and cult hits "Masterhit" and "Quite Unusual" don't exactly carpet-bomb the sensorium. But they don't. You've heard of preaching to the converted? These guys shoot the executed. B-

Front by Front [Wax Trax, 1988]
Could it be that these impassive disco powermongers are the latest in the long line of European rockers who have symphonic grandeur so deep in their bones that they believe they can reach the, er, masses with it? Well, let's hope they're wrong--if they got popular we might have to take them seriously. B-

Never Stop [Wax Trax EP, 1989]
It's hard. Hard synthbeats that sound suspiciously danceable despite virtuous protestations that this isn't a mere dance band. Mit samples--including, gasp, some guy intoning "242" in German! C+