Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Jane Siberry

  • No Borders Here [Open Air, 1985] B-
  • When I Was a Boy [Reprise, 1993] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

No Borders Here [Open Air, 1985]
"Canada's most critically acclaimed new artist" says the sticker, but you know Canadians--they lose their heads when a native evinces the merest soupcon of originality. She's even been compared to Laurie Anderson, I guess because she's abstract sometimes. I'll say. How thoroughly she's transcended what I'm sure was a careful upbringing is summed up in a statement of aesthetic principle that I swear is unsullied by the tiniest smudge of irony: "Symmetry is the way things have to be." B-

When I Was a Boy [Reprise, 1993]
Interesting music is the perfect cover for mediocre literature. Many serious pop fans, especially genteel ones, are so hungry for tokens of intelligence that they'll cut slack for anyone who transcends the quatrain, pondering sung imagery they wouldn't glance at in a slim volume. If you skip "Sweet Incarnadine" ("edited down from a 20 min. improvisation," God help us), this isn't altogether horrible. Siberry has a sense of shape and texture; there are clever glints of informality in her presentation; her passion shows more smarts and decency than most. But her settings are only settings. And her words are only intelligent. B-