January 29, 1999
What happens when the pursuit of that rock'n'roll will-o'-the-wisp - authenticity - leads to a burlesque cul-de-sac?...
6 / 10
What happens when the pursuit of that rock'n'roll will-o'-the-wisp - authenticity - leads to a burlesque cul-de-sac? From Hank Williams to Mark 'E' Everett, trauma and ennui have become fast-track signifiers for creative legitimacy, supposedly validating every stale acoustic arpeggio and lonely-heart whimper. It's OK to play two uninspired chords repeatedly for ten minutes, as long as you are singing about heroin addiction.
Well, The Paradise Motel prove that sounding pained and petulant won't necessarily imbue your words with insight. "Bored as hell in Israel/Had a heart complaint in 'Frisco", intones ashen chanteuse Merida Sussex during 'Cities', as behind her tambourines tremble sympathetically. And it's laughable, as meaningless as Dionne Warwick chirping, "I've got lots of friends in San Jose". No amount of moping minor chords can turn banality into mystery.
It's irritating since when The Paradise Motel shake off the wraith of Mazzy Star, they find a genuinely bewitching sound. 'Other Things' coasts by on warm orchestral eddies, while their cover of The Cars' 'Drive' is heartbreaking where the original was merely cloying.
Suffering for your art is fine, as long as your art doesn't suffer.
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