Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Bangles

  • The Bangles [Faulty Products EP, 1982] B
  • All Over the Place [Columbia, 1984] A-
  • Different Light [Columbia, 1986] B
  • Everything [Columbia, 1988] B-
  • Greatest Hits [Columbia, 1990] A-
  • Doll Revolution [Koch, 2003] ***

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Bangles [Faulty Products EP, 1982]
They have more Beatles in them than Fanny and the Go-Go's combined, but nothing in the songs tells you why they bother or keeps you so busy you don't have time to wonder. It's almost as if the not quite soulful rubber harmonies are ends in themselves--as if these women can't get past their own craft because craft comes so hard to them. B

All Over the Place [Columbia, 1984]
Definitely reduces the nostalgia-cum-nausea factor that it's women who execute these familiar heart-stopping harmonies, and thank God there's not a trace of Liverpool or even Britannia in the accents. But the value of these songs isn't merely negative--they're thoroughly realized in both the writing and playing. Though the style is as derivative and even retro as on EP, they don't seem to be dabbling any more. Maybe they project such confidence because they know exactly what they want to say: don't fuck me over. A-

Different Light [Columbia, 1986]
Right, they're maturing into a less derivative pop synthesis, as if that means shit these days. Like the Raspberries before them, they're brilliant when they emulate the Beatles and mature popsters when they don't. And for what it's worth, the four most striking tunes here are the four nonoriginals--every one, for what it's worth, written by a guy. B

Everything [Columbia, 1988]
No no no, last time wasn't serious, that was just PR--you didn't buy that Rubber Soul malarkey, did you? This time, though--this time they're serious. They wrote all the songs themselves. Got two about suicide, one about a complicated girl, a historical thing about glitter, and eight, well, love songs. But serious--"Lately I dream that I'm in your arms," "I'll do anything you want me to," "All I ever really want is you." Really. B-

Greatest Hits [Columbia, 1990]
Catchier cut for cut than All Over the Place, this is also the sad testament of good girls gone bad in the El Lay moneypits. Launched by Susanna Hoffs's and Vicki Peterson's "Hero Takes a Fall," "Going Down to Liverpool" to "Manic Monday" to "If She Knew What She Wants" to "Walk Like an Egyptian" is one of those euphoric pop sequences that makes you believe this can go on forever--this happiness, this knowledge, this being 26, this crest of the wave. Problem is, they didn't write a one of those songs. Culled for dross, the self-penned stuff that follows reaches with some success for the mature self-awareness that is the current El Lay currency, and not a one sounds as fresh or as wise as Paul Simon's "Hazy Shade of Winter." A-

Doll Revolution [Koch, 2003]
Their name was always the cheapest thing about them, and finally they write the respectable songs to prove it ("Single by Choice," "Song for a Good Son"). ***

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