Listen Up: Wednesday, May 30, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Girls Against Boys

You Can’t Fight What You Can’t See (Jade Tree)

By Christy Goldfinch

Advance word on Girls Against Boys’ sixth album was that the once and future indie band had finally lost its Garbage fixation and returned to its D.C.-hardcore roots. Hardly. True, GvsB has left major label Geffen, which pushed the band into making 1998’s overly slick Freak*on*ica — an album that seemed almost a self-parody after three dare-we-say-brilliant releases on teeny Touch and Go. Even better, the band is now signed to i ndie-authentic Jade Tree, home to emoheads Pedro the Lion, Milemarker, and Owls. But the lads are still too slick by half. Let it be said: Girls Against Boys have lost their boys.

Technically, You Can’t Fight What You Can’t See is near-perfect. Two ferocious bass guitars drive the techno-pop rhythms, with funky drums keeping the urban beat. The throbbing “Tweaker” sparkles with overdubbed fuzz guitars; like the hook-laden “BFF,” it’s a great tune to dance to: polished, glossy, and superficial.

And, ultimately, boring. The new house of GvsB is the cleaned-up, Disney-fied Times Square, not the gritty crossroads of the band’s youth. Gravel-voiced Scott McCloud drones meaningless lines like “Let’s space our days away / in New York versus L.A.” as if he’s reading them from cue cards. Even the slower, emo-y “Let It Breathe” lacks passion. Most songs sound like each band member phoned his part in, to be pieced together in the studio.

For sleek, stylish, sexy dance-pop, hang on a few more weeks for Rhino’s release of Shine Like It Does: The INXS Anthology (1979-1997). Seriously. Because when McCloud-soundalike Michael Hutchence croons “I need you tonight,” baby, he’s singing from his boys. You can all but taste the difference.


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