Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tracey Thorn: Record [Merge, 2018]
Calm, deliberate, undemonstrative, Thorn is a singer some find magical and others prosaic. I've always tended other, but when a 55-year-old wife and mother claims she's recorded "nine feminist bangers," I pay attention. And these definitely work up some fairy dust. The beats evoke without mimicking the subtle electro-dance of Thorn and her beatmaking husband Ben Watt's 20th-century band, Everything but the Girl, and in her undemonstrative way, she sequences the catchiest tracks last: "Face," about checking out your ex at Mark Zuckerberg's place, and "Dance," which namechecks "Good Times," "Shame," "Golden Years," and "Let the Music Play." In four other songs, decent but fundamentally clueless guys mess with various women's lives, while two others evoke a motherhood you assume is autobiographical. In "Babies," "Get the fuck to bed now" is closely followed by "Baby love you even more." In "Go," which takes place quite a few years later, she knows the kid has to leave--that's the reason she put in all that work. A-