She Wants Revenge: This is Forever

Depeche Mode had a conscious knowledge of how outlandish their songs were, and they played it out with full conviction. When it comes to She Wants Revenge, however, they are without a sense of irony.

She Wants Revenge

This is Forever

Label: Geffen
US Release Date: 2007-10-09
UK Release Date: 2007-10-15

Apparently, gloom-rockers can play it safe.

When She Wants Revenge burst onto the scene in early '06, they were reviving a dark electronic sound that had largely been lost in the wake of the post-millennial emo explosion. Taking cues from both Joy Division and Depeche Mode, the duo (comprised of Justin Warfield and Adam Bravin) crafted an idol-worshipping eponymous debut that was able to overcome its obvious influences by simply being nothing more than a solid, cathartic feel-bad kind of record. With This is Forever, however, the group seem to be perfectly content with crafting their debut album all over again. Despite a few worthy entries to their canon, it's hard to shake the feeling that This is Forever is nothing more than She Wants Revenge, Pt. II.

Things get off on the wrong-foot straight from the get go with "First, Love", a stumbling, half-hearted instrumental to some movie that only Warfield and Bravin can see in their heads. Its lack of outright propulsion sets up an iffy tone, and things don't get any better when first single "Written in Blood" follows right behind it. Though this is the most blatant example, there are a few other songs where it sounds like She Wants Revenge are deliberately trying to rewrite their sole hit, "Tear You Apart" -- replete with brooding basslines and Warfield's Monahan-esque stories of depressed, neurotic women. The duo does have a good grasp on theatricality in their songs, but when the listener is subjected to lines like "You taste like tear stains and coulda-beens / But I love a good train-wreck", it's hard not to feel like the melodrama has been cranked up just a notch too high. Even Depeche Mode had a conscious knowledge of how outlandish their songs were, and they played it out with full conviction. When it comes to She Wants Revenge, however, they are without a sense of irony.

The depressed, neurotic girl at the center of "She Will Always Be a Broken Girl", however, is a compelling figure. By keeping the narration solely in the girl's head and his own sexual fantasies at bay, Warfield is able to craft a character portrait that doesn't come across as strictly two-dimensional. Amidst a field of stolen Black Celebration-era keyboards, Warfield depicts a girl who has jitters before a big prom night, worried about everything from what she wears to what her parents think of her. It's a compelling number, done as if it's a musical sequel to the girl depicted in the Joaquin Phoenix-helmed clip for "Tear You Apart".

Yet even with successes like "She Will Always Be a Broken Girl" and the Brian Eno-infected instrumental "All Those Moments", This is Forever simply cannot get past its own self-imposed lack of evolution. "Checking Out", for example, rides a wily guitar riff that comes across as nothing more than unimaginative. Warfield, in addition, seems to run out of lyrical steam as time rolls on, never rising above his spoken-word monotone. "Time disappears inside you / 'til there's nothing left but us", he croons on "Pretend the World Has Ended", a cryptic line that is as illogical as it is plain, all while lost amidst (again) a sea of synth-washes. At least the closing number "Rachael" kicks things up a notch by doubling the bass-drum over on itself in order to give it a little bit of an energy boost. Though it's not as stunning a home-run as "Broken Girl", at least "Rachael" still finds its way back to Warfield's character-study strengths.

This perpetually-gloomy duo, however, will need more than just a couple of good songs to sustain themselves into the future. As it stands, they've done one fairly-good album followed by a shabby re-hash of said fairly-good album, and this does not a legacy make. Their hero-worship is as strong as ever, but until She Wants Revenge are comfortable crafting their own, distinct sound, they will have to live with a tag as unwanted as "one hit wonder". Besides, when was playing it safe ever fun to begin with?


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.