Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • The Back Room [Fader, 2006] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Back Room [Fader, 2006]
Denying prior knowledge of Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Interpol, Staffordshire University's answer to the Arctic Monkeys cite as influences early R.E.M., Elbow, and the French Doors--not Jimbo in Paris, a Brooklyn band that shares members with, you know, Black Lipstick. I believe them, too. Though this strain of heartsick gravity was unknown on earth before Ian Curtis and the goth/new romantic inundation he heralded, it has since been imprinted on every Caucasian adolescent in the English-speaking world. And as leader Tom Smith demonstrates, it needn't be morbid or suicidal. His message is often sanely chin-up--as in "Open your arms and welcome people to your town" and even the relatively dark (if sonically comic) "You don't need this disease you don't," 36 repetitions of which constitute virtually the entire lyric of "Bullets." Someone should tell him about the Human League. C+