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The Fresh And Onlys – Play It Strange (In The Red)

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Little things can make a big difference. Sometimes, it’s the difference between loving something and thinking it’s just OK. Or thinking it’s OK and hating it. Or hating it and wishing syphilis on it.

I was enjoying The Fresh And Onlys‘ third album in a medium-sized way. Its fuzzy, lazy grin, garage-psych. Its goofy romance and hypnotic jangles. Its tunes that recall Australia (Nick Cave, The Go-Betweens) and Liverpool (Echo & The Bunnymen, Shack) as much as America. There are some good tunes here, some simple sunny stamp-along grooves with a hint of the forlorn, the recognition that summer ends, couples split up and bands get old and fat. Although, neither new nor challenging, Play It Strange is pleasant and fun. It’s OK. But that was until the sixth track, ‘Be My Hooker’, revealed The Fresh And Onlys as tedious frat-boy idiots.

I now dislike The Fresh And Onlys’ third album in a medium-sized way. Its groggy, lazy-arsed, garage-psych. Its inane lyrics and repetitive jingles. Its tunes that reference lots of other bands more interesting than they are. There are some good tunes here, but there are plenty of other bands with better ones who don’t need to fall back on tired misogynistic drivel. There’s a chest-beating Iron John man-camp of a song called ‘Who Needs A Man’, perhaps attempting an ironic comment on masculinity to equal out the other song? Or maybe not, who knows or cares? It’s too little too late to neutralize the sour taste left by ‘Be My Hooker’ and the sense of exclusion that it creates.

Luckily, garage rock no longer has to be a big dumb spring break for boys only. Female-dominated bands like The Vivian Girls and Best Coast do this sort of thing with a thousand times the charm, verve and freshness.

Who needs a man, indeed?

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