My Favorite

Joan of Arc Awaiting Trial

by Ben Varkentine


Be careful what you wish for, young man, you will surely get it.

Depeche Mode has switched places with U2, as the one became more rock, the other became more electro. New Order fell apart with Republic—affectionate as I feel towards that record, it’s patently the sound of something falling apart. Johnny Marr and Morrisey haven’t lived up to their early, brilliant promise despite good post-Smiths starts for both of them. OMD broke up before the ‘80s did—Andy did a few essentially solo records under the name, but it was never the same. Duran Duran is a pale shadow of it’s former self, generating product every three years or so to keep the remaining founders in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed, but their pickles lost their crispness long ago.

cover art

My Favorite

Joan of Arc Awaiting Trial

(Double Agent)

I say these are bad things. The Pacific Age, Black Celebration, Louder Than Bombs, Substance, Decade—these were given out around my teen club as readily as was Frampton Comes Alive in the previous decade. Our high school years were probably no more angst-filled than the next generation, but this was our soundtrack, and it attuned me to musical frequencies I continue to listen to today. I’ve often wished the bands above and others like them could have carried on as normal into the ‘90s. Would have made that falling, post-high school period a little more bearable.

So the question arises: Given my previously established tastes, why didn’t I like My Favorite, a band born to be on the soundtrack of Pretty In Pink 2: Duckie’s Revenge more than I did?

This EP—the first in a projected series of three drawing an allegory between Saint Joan and disaffected youth—sounds like it came right from the playlists of what we once called “modern rock” radio stations, or “alternative” before that word lost all relative meaning.

Four songs awash in synthesizers, piano, skilled if artless vocals, treated guitars, and programmed-sounding (but apparently played live) drums. One thing I’m really not sure about is why a series of EPs instead of a concept album? The songs are not at all without moments to stir the blood of an old ‘80s man, but they also sound somehow slight, whereas it seems likely that presented as part of an album, the whole experience might be more satisfactory.

The synths are played by vocalist/cosongwriter Michael Grace, Jr., guitarist/cosongwriter Darren Amadio and vocalist Andrea Vaughn, the drums by the suspiciously named Todbot. Who may, for all I know, be to this band what Echo was to the Bunnymen—a drum machine. I’m telling ya, it sure sounds like it. Not that I have anything against drum machines, it’s just weird to see a drummer credited and hear what sounds like a machine coming out of your speakers.

Based on the admittedly scant evidence here, as songwriters Grace and Amadio do not seem to have completely shaken off their influences, particularly New Order, whose ghosts are very apparent in the synth part to “Homeless Club Kids” and the melody line to “L=P.” Coincidentally or not, these are also the best songs on the album, especially the latter, which gives us a lyric to go to the heart of any black-wearing, pale kid with a hair color not their own: “Loneliness is pornography to them but to us it is an art.”

I want to hear more from this band, yet I don’t know that I can fully recommend this EP. Look at it this way: I got a critics promo copy, and I’m not sure it was worth it. How can I tell you how you should spend your money? However, My Favorite did release a full album last year, and if you, like me, ever wore black, were pale, or had a hair color not your own in high school, you might want to take a look for it. I know I will be.

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