Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Reputation

  • The Reputation [Initial, 2002] A-
  • To Force a Fate [Lookout, 2004] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Reputation [Initial, 2002]
First Elizabeth Elmore left a great band to go to law school. Now she leaves a great law school to start a better band, bringing a dark, intense fury to Sarge's runaway jangle. You'd think she'd be proud of herself, and from the way she talks you can tell she is. But is she happy about her accomplishments? Au contraire. Friends and lovers fall away on all sides, so that she would leave this town tonight if she could think where to go--not law school, damn it. One begins to wonder whether beneath her reasonable exterior lurk impossible demands. After all, when guys spend albums complaining about how nobody's good enough for them we figure they're trying to kid somebody. She goes out covering Elvis Costello, who is not my choice to replace Ann Landers. A-

To Force a Fate [Lookout, 2004]
Not a nice girl, Elizabeth Elmore. Not a girl at all--very much a woman, a driven one. Unsparing of her own faults, which she describes with acuity and sets to tunes that make them sound normal in an attractive way. If she betrays an artistic flaw as her second band grows, it's that her accomplished singing doesn't quite deliver her excellent lyrics. Maybe deep down she wants to reveal herself yet not reveal herself. In any case, love is a problem, and she's no longer claiming it's the guy's fault--except for the one who hits her (she got that right) and a boyfriend's buddy who won't come through on his come-on (she got that wrong and half knows it). A true rock miniaturist, loyal to her friends and in need of a week's sleep. A-