15 March 2006

Overlooked Albums from the 90's - #23

Love At Absolute Zero by My Favorite

My obsession with music from the 80's started in the 80's and hasn't stopped yet. I love all kinds of stuff from that glorious decade, from the cheesy and popular to the obscure and eclectic. As a kid growing up in the 80's I favored pop, hair metal, and rap and once I found myself (musically) in the 90's, I started looking seriously at the more alternative stuff. It is this music that formed the basis for so much of what I love and inspired me to try to make music of my own in the late 90's. Granted I've been in bands on and off since the late 80's but sometime around 1998 I had the fantastic idea of taking inspiration from 80's music and trying to write some songs based on that stuff. History has proven I wasn't the only one with such a great idea but if you really want to know why I've never been totally wowed by bands like Interpol or Franz Ferdinand it's because of three particular albums from the late 90's that covered just about everything I loved about 80's music better than anything since. You'll find that two of them have already been talked about in this series - HERE and HERE. The third is Love At Absolute Zero by My Favorite.

This album flat out dominates. From the very first time I heard it I was completely in love. In a world where looking back, artistically, is often the preferred manner of moving forward, I honestly have no clue why there aren't more people who are crazy about this band/album. Every time that I saw these guys here in the city people seemed nonplused. I don't remember that many folks heaping praise on them (though the reviews I've found are favorable) and they never really moved past playing places like Rothko and Mercury Lounge. For a band that so clearly wears their influences on their sleeve I'll take these guys over most of that other crap any day.

Checking in with some of those reviews...Pitchfork says:

"...7 out of 7 aging ex- Wavers agree: My Favorite is the shit.

Like the best of the recent new wave revivalists, My Favorite makes blatantly '80s- influenced pop with no trace of irony or simple- minded retro posturing. But these guys offer something that, say, Orange Cake Mix doesn't: you can really dance to My Favorite. I mean, maybe even break a sweat. You could pogo all over your living room with 'em, and then maybe do a little of that weird, flowy arm waving, and then do that one move where you're bent over and sweeping one arm and leg back and forth like you're looking for a contact lens. And then go back to the table for a little while and catch your breath and just lip- sync."
AllMusic says:
"My Favorite's superb debut translates palpable pre-millennial tension into neon-lit synthesizer drama -- recalling the heyday of the New Wave with none of the irony which sinks like-minded retro-futurists from Romania to the Rentals, Love at Absolute Zero is the soundtrack to a youth rebellion that never was, vividly conjuring a teen underworld as romantic as it is claustrophobic. The album is wonderfully sleek and cinematic -- songs like "Absolute Beginners Again" and the remarkable "17 Berlin" unspool like music videos -- and although My Favorite bring to mind the chrome-plated aesthetics of the synth-pop era with uncanny accuracy, their songs capture a passion and immediacy which the remote robotics of their antecedents lacked. It's quite simply the best album of 1983, delivered sixteen years after the fact."
Okay, so there you have it. It's that last line that really resonates with me. "It's quite simply the best album of 1983, delivered sixteen years after the fact." I agree with that completely. This record has so much of everything that I love about the 80's packed into it it makes me feel like I'm in high school and 'laying in awe on my bedroom floor' all over again. Except this time, it's My Favorite bringing me the music to save my life. If any of what I've said here resonates with you, if you ever loved The Smiths, The Human League, Duran Duran or any of the others like them...look no further.

Listen:
  • "Absolute Beginners Again"
  • "The Truth About Lake Ronkonkama"
  • "Working Class Jacket"
Previous Overlooked Albums from the 90's:
#1 - Saturnalia by The Wedding Present
#2 - The Inevitable by Squirrel Nut Zippers
#3 - This is Our Music by Galaxie 500
#4 - Dusk by The The
#5 - Fantasma by Cornelius
#6 - New Wave by The Auteurs
#7 - I, Jonathan by Jonathan Richman
#8 - Futureworld by Trans Am
#9 - Harmacy by Sebadoh
#10 - Cure For Pain by Morphine
#11 - God Fodder by Ned's Atomic Dustbin
#12 - Seven by James
#13 - Why Do Birds Sing? by Violent Femmes
#14 - Blank-Wave Arcade by The Faint
#15 - Dog Man Star by Suede
#16 - Beatsongs by The Blue Aeroplanes
#17 - Don't Try This At Home by Billy Bragg
#18 - 1992: The Love Album by Carter USM
#19 - Time Was Gigantic...When We Were Kids by The Durutti Column
#20 - Psalm 69 by Ministry
#21 - The Dirtchamber Sessions, Vol. 1 by The Prodigy
#22 - Going Blank Again by Ride

if you'd like...
Pitchfork's top albums of the 90's
1st version of their list

Another site does their own "Overlooked of the 90's":
Top 30 'Other' Albums of the '90s

5 comments:

bill said...

too bad My Favorite broke up!

Matt said...

it is indeed too bad

mitch said...

Nice pick. I love this overlooked albums series.

It looks like My Favorite v2 is a real possibility. Michael Grace's blog reports the rest of the band practicing and looking for a new female singer. Unlike the Beautiful South, it looks like they'll use a new name.

http://myhopeandanchor.blogspot.com

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eLf ideas said...

Overlooked by whom? By some music journalists writing for some influential Indie music magazines?