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Agent Ribbons

Chateau Crone

(Antenna Farm; US: 12 Oct 2010; UK: Import)

Oh, damn. Don’t you hate it when a record starts with a kickass tune, only to drop the ball immediately afterward? As if to tease the listener:“Look, we can write great songs if we want to. We’d just prefer to go over here and noodle around”.


Agent Ribbons is guilty of this with their debut full-length, Chateau Crone. An all-female trio sporting fine voices and decent musical chops, Agent Ribbons kicks off the album with the spiky guitar hook and snappy lyrics of “I’m Alright”. It’s a zippy little tune that leaves the listener wanting more. Unfortunately, the listener waits in vain for an equally compelling follow-up. Dirgelike “Grey Garden” features an oom-pa-pa rhythm that sucks away much of the momentum from the previous song, and “Dada Girlfriend” slows things down even more, with Natalie Ribbons’ vocals sounding something like Neko Case on quaaludes.


And so it goes. Later songs feature unexpected instrumentation (Accordion? Ukelele?) and titles like “I Was Born to Sing Bad Songs.” It all starts to sound like outtakes from post-modern musical theatre. Quirky, offbeat and ironic? You bet.I wish there was less of all that, and more great songs instead.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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