More Stephin Merrit Rock Reviews

“Rock That?s Oh So Stupid Yet Oh So Intelligent”
By STEPHIN MERRITT
The New York Times 5/16/04

DELAYS You can’t tell a word Greg Gilbert is saying on this English band’s debut album, “Faded Seaside Glamour” (Rough Trade), and you won’t care; his soaring falsetto is that beautiful. The first single, “Nearer Than Heaven,” sounds pretty close to heaven already and quotes Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” while surpassing it in liquid pop ecstasy. Although the rest of the album lacks variety, Mr. Gilbert showcases his Hollies fetish in entertaining ways throughout. Maybe Delays and the Darkness will start a great castrati revival in England, and there will be a new golden age of music.

THE KILLERS Retro new-wave Britpoppers from Las Vegas with genuine fake British accents, the Killers sound uncomfortably like a lot of bands (Interpol, often) on “Hot Fuss” (Island Def Jam). But with songs like the homoerotic power ballad “Andy, You’re a Star,” the teen angst power ballad “Smile Like You Mean It” and the sarcastic power ballad “Everything Will Be Alright,” they’ll appeal to teenagers who don’t know the sources. The songs deserve better than these unvarying distorted guitars, and maybe on their next album the Killers will get a bit more subtle, like playing a nice, depressing acoustic guitar. Meanwhile, they’ll be popular anyway because they’re adorable.

MORRISSEY His new album, “You Are the Quarry” (Sanctuary), demonstrates more than ever that the best lyricist in rock, Morrissey, still surrounds himself with dull musicians incapable of properly filling out his introspective kitchen-sink dramas. Plodding generic rock ‘n’ roll accompanies “Where taxi drivers never stop talking, under slate-gray Victorian sky: Here you’ll find despair and I.” At this level of lyric artistry, these warmed-over arena rock backdrops are a waste. One longs to lock him up for a year with, say, the pop orchestra the High Llamas, so lyrics like “I’ve been dreaming of a time when to be English is not to be baneful, to be standing by the flag not feeling shameful, racist or martial” can be matched by equally thoughtful arrangements.

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About the Delays disc: None of the album tracks is as awesome and majestic as this b-side from the Hey Girl single. Everyone I’ve played this for has loved it. Enjoy.

Delays – “Zero Zero One”