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Vanity Theft

Get What You Came For

(Vigilante; US: 1 Feb 2011; UK: Import)

This is not a good record

It’s impossible to know whether Vanity Theft singer Alicia Grodecki uses any sort of artificial voice-pitch manipulation, but I wouldn’t be surprised: there is something uncannily synthetic about her voice, a kind of robot-like quality that jars eerily with her constant protestations of ragged bad-girl independence. In a way, this serves as a perfect metaphor for the band, an Ohio four-piece that claims to be damn-the-torpedoes rock ‘n’ rollers but who come off as artificial and arranged, as processed and posed as any boy band or girl group.


Yeah, they play the classic rock guitar/bass/keyboards/drums lineup, but this music has more in common with the synth lines and thudding drums of dance divas like Kylie and Brittany than with anything that, y’know, rocks. Songs like “Limb from Limb” and “Anatomy” make bold claims of trenchant attitude, but don’t be fooled: this band is as synthetic (that word again) as they come. Your nine-year-old niece will probably think they’re cool. She might want a copy for her birthday, but you’d be better advised to give her some Joan Jett or L7 instead. Just avoid this band: Vanity Theft make the Donnas look like Sonic Youth.

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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