Scott Creney

The Babies – Our House On The Hill (Woodsist)

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By Scott Creney

This album is stupid. I hate myself for liking it the way I do. It makes me feel like a sucker, the way I fall for its ramshackle charm, its easy melodies. I guess I’m a sucker for one-string guitar solos.

It’s a shame about the Babies. Come on feel the Babie-heads.

You may already know this, but I think it’s relevant to point out that The Babies is a guy from Woods and Cassie from Vivian Girls. Not because the Babies sounds like either of those bands, but because it doesn’t—which is interesting for its own reasons.

Their first album felt tossed off in a way that this one does not, which isn’t to say that Our House on the Hill doesn’t feel tossed off, but this one is half-assed in a more focused way. That’s probably why I keep thinking about the Lemonheads (although there’s nothing here as heart-stopping as those drum fills before the last chorus in ‘Rudderless’), except Evan wasn’t smart enough to let Juliana sing lead on a couple of tracks. Four years ago I wrote Vivian Girls off as sound-over-substance derivative blah. But as they’ve kept going, and kept growing, they just seem to get better and better. I thought the last one was the best one yet, and this year’s La Sera album was pretty great too. The indie world is fickle, and even as Vivian Girls grow, it seems like their buzz continues to dwindle, and their sheep-like audience wanders off into other pastures. Good. Cassie Ramone’s better off without them.

This record’s so college it hurts. It totally evokes the confusion of entering the world and all it entails. It’s the sound of being over-aware and underprepared, about living one’s life as a mass of contradictions still in need of sorting. The album thrives on its contradictions—simultaneously desperately sincere and tongue in cheek. Too off the cuff to be classic, too desperate to be fluff.

Back in the days of generational schisms, critics would have called them slackers. Now they’re just one more band in search of an audience, but not, you know, being all intense about it or anything.

Songs to fall in love to, the kind of love that lasts for three confusing push/pull months—exciting and dull, full of potential and doomed from the start, endless sex and endless sexual frustration. My favorite song is the one that goes ‘You’re a dumbfuck. You’re an idiot. You’re a dumbfuck. You’re a piece of shit’ as breezy as can be.

It stumbles into brilliance like a drunk intellectual freed from self-consciousness, with just enough melody to keep you listening. It’ll never change the world. It’ll never change your life. But then again it might.

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