Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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PLAGUE SONGS
4AD

Biblical theme + alt-rockers + grant money = skippable compilation

The ten plagues of Egypt were good for the Jews--brought down by Moses, Aaron and their boss Jehovah to help those long-ago Middle East good guys get out from under. But when a British filmmaker got grant money to commission songs about said plagues as part of her muddled re-enactment of the Exodus, what were her arty artistes to do? Make locusts and boils sound like liberation? Instead, Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson escape into depressive murmurs, Scott Walker and the Tiger Lillies offer competing Antony and the Johnsons imitations, wan London rapper Klashnekoff and typographically challenged soulster Cody ChestnuTT fulfill their quota, and King Creosote associates frogs with loneliness because they didn't ask him to write one about roses. At least Rufus Wainwright moves the firstborn-son action to Westchester. And thank G-d Stephin Merritt risks "necessary heresy." "Fleas, fleas, STDs/All of Egypt on her knees"--that's the spirit.

Rolling Stone, Nov. 30, 2006