Thursday, February 18, 2010

Everybody Was in The French Resistance...Now!

Fixin The Charts, Vol. 1

Cooking Vinyl Records, 2009

Review by Quentin Kenny

EWITFR…N is a side-project of Art Brut’s Eddie Argos and The Blood Arm’s Dyan Valdes. The premise is to take well-known pop hits (and a few that remain a mystery even after looking up their origin) and let Argos delve into an alternate point-of-view take on the subject matter.

Unsurprisingly, such a template allows the literary-minded Argos to call forward moments both personable and personal from characters whose opinion you might not have previously considered. The daughter of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, informing her father that he, and not her, was her mother’s true mistake, for example.

The best moments, though, come when you almost forget that you’ve heard a version of all this before. Buoyed by the interplay between Argos’ spoken-word delivery of stories that demand close attention and Valdes’ beautiful 50s girl-group vocals, “Think Twice (It’s Not Alright)” and “Hey! It’s Jimmie Mack” strike a balance between familiarity and independence.

Perhaps most capable of enduring with the masses is lead single “G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N.”, replete with catchier-than-Avril handclaps and the feeling of superiority that comes with being the pursued without having to feign anything but contempt.

The biggest drawback to something like Fixing the Charts, Vol 1 seems to be that unlike the songs being mocked, which have endured time for reasons that are noble or otherwise, several here feel stale or unnecessary shortly after the novelty wears off. It isn’t for a lack of common truths though.

While the details about and sentiment regarding the star of “He’s a Rebel” are known to anyone who’s ever had a friend date someone they don’t like, he doesn’t make for as alluring a focus from this side of the relationship. A saucy Facebook post to be sure, but not a standalone song.

To dwell on such moments is to miss the point, however. This isn’t meant to be pop history. Rather, it is, but it’s not rewriting or even overshadowing that history, just asking that we take a moment and think about that which we’ve previously assumed. As it turns out, maybe we were singing along with the wrong person all along.

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