Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Everything but the Girl

  • Walking Wounded [Atlantic, 1996] Neither

Further Notes:

New Wave [1980s]

Subjects for Further Research [1990s]: Tracey Thorn has always been one of those singers who sounded dandy on other people's records, notably Massive Attack's. Her diffident quietude is designed for new sophisticates, meaning not me, and linked to Ben Watt's lounge jazz once removed she always seemed to warrant that all-purpose what-me-worry dis, boring. Nor did things improve when Watt took cues from Massive Attack and went techno; although he was always understated about it, his affinities were clearly with jungle's soundtrack and fusion tendencies. I decided to get down to cases with these two over 1999's well-regarded Temperamental. But having duly noted that after multiple plays I still had no idea what the songs were about, I sat down with the lyric sheet and realized I'd been missing something--on Temperamental, at least, Thorn's alienated single woman of no special status alone in the city is chillingly and compassionately observed (or is that experienced?). I shouldn't have needed the print, of course--it's the singer's job to make you to notice such stuff. Nevertheless, I'm officially sorry I once called her pseudo-Sade. She's realer than Sade.

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