My Favorite

A Cult of One

by Ben Varkentine


The Continuing Story of My Favorite

And now, let’s get back to My Favorite. When last we left them, they had released the Joan of Arc Awaiting Trial EP, which I reviewed for PopMatters last year. In that review, I said that as this was music all but made for someone of my “generation”, and right on my musical frequency, I was surprised that I didn’t like it more. My Favorite songwriters Michael Grace Jr. (vocals, synths, words and music) and Darren Amadio (guitars, synths, music) use the technology of past decades to make songs which they hope will last through the next. For someone who got through high school partly on liberal doses of New Order, My Favorite’s similar synth-pop ought to be . . . well, one of my favorites.

This EP is unquestionably an improvement on the last, especially when it comes to giving new blood to an old sound. Listening to A Cult of One is not nearly so much of a game of “spot the influence” as Joan of Arc was, which makes it easier to more completely enjoy the experience. Yet I must tell you, it is still not completely satisfactory, and rarely if ever approaches the bliss that characterizes a truly great pop song. I kept waiting for it to kick into high gear.

cover art

My Favorite

A Cult of One

(Double Agent)

Lyrically, Grace’s subject remains the alien, the girl or boy “differing in nature or character typically to the point of incompatibility”, to quote Websters. The blue girl who spent the summer in her boyfriend’s room “listening to The Black Cassette” in Grace’s song of the same name. The pale kids with hair colors not their own who feel “a pathetic mythology is better than no mythology at all”, and that “The Suburbs are Killing Us”. This is Grace’s audience, and it was presumably Grace himself at one time or another.

While acknowledging their flaws, I feel My Favorite continue to be worthy of further investigation. There is something about them that improves in the mind. After writing my review of the last EP, when it came time to contribute my “Best of 2000” list at the end of the year, I found that their songs had stuck with me more than I had thought. And a couple of months ago when I was making a mix tape of the music I’d listened to in the last year which I still enjoy, My Favorite sneaked two songs on again.

Second in the series of three EPs, A Cult of One sounds just as “alternative” as their last. And remember, I’m using “alternative” for what it really means, not something that appears on any chart. My Favorite are not of this era. What I like about them, of course, I like not in spite of that but because of that. They were born to be on the soundtrack of John Hughes films, where almost all the really stylish groups of the ‘80s ended up defining an era’s soundtrack, bless’ em. The soundtrack of the moment belongs, god help us, to Jennifer Lopez. And any true alternative to that would really be one of my favorite things.

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