Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2010-12-21

2010-12-21

Care Bears on Fire: Girls Like It Loud (S-Curve download EP, 2010) Brooklyn 15-year-old Sophie and her BFF Izzy have had a band since fifth grade and were profiled cute in New York magazine in 2006. They still have plenty of time for premature burnout. But kids can be so gratifying sometimes, and this EP is all about progress. Fountains of Wayne-aided and Donnas-influenced, their mildly enjoyable 2009 full-length was bratty-dreaming-slutty, its assorted putdowns less punk than they thought. Here Sophie permits herself enough introspective vulnerability and messy yearning to tug a dad's heart: "What I Could Be" ("You can't understand what it's like being shy") and "Ask Me How I Am" ("Satisfied and OK," only she's fronting to be polite). After that she's freed up to bet her probably excessive allowance on a putdown called "ATM." She also covers a Marbles song about star dreams I never noticed at CB's and doubt her mom is old enough to have heard in the flesh. The Tears for Fears song she may have. A

Sleigh Bells: Treats (Mom + Pop, 2010) Exploiting a simple yet extreme-seeming variation on indie's noize-toon dichotomy, a made-to-order thrill-of-the-whatever band crosses the Jesus and Mary Chain and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Derek Miller's orchestrated distortions combine the crudeness of the Reid brothers and the virtuosity of Nick Zinner while Alexis-not-Alison Krauss plays the female principle for a childlike sweetness belied by what lyrics you can make out, which suggest in toto that what little human contact this band makes room for will have to wait until such time as sonic immersion fails to satisfy their spiritual yearnings. That their most charming song by far is the straight GeorgeClinton rip "Rill Rill," which leaves open the question of what they can do for an encore. I'll grant that minimalist bands always leave that question open if you'll grant that too often the answer is repeat themselves. A-

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