Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-04-15


Rainbow Arabia: Boys and Diamonds (Kompakt, 2011) Arabia? What Arabia? Euro synth duo, tuneful and sometimes haunting, always droney fun--textured, beaty lines under an unnaturally high-voiced girly-woman singing lyrics of no importance when you can make them out, which isn't often. Then I learned: L.A. husband-and-wife duo, latter named Tiffany, her accented English one affectation among many. They hit upon their sound after purchasing a Casio preprogrammed with microtonal scales and Middle Eastern rhythm bits, both of which loom larger on their two mildly enjoyable EPs. Hence a hopefully intentioned band name unlikely to further the cause of peace in a war-torn world where those scales and rhythms have been adopted as silly pop staples already. Think Fever Ray sans dark side. Better still, don't think at all. A-

Britney Spears: Femme Fatale (Deluxe Edition) (Jive, 2011) The pitch-corrected giggle "I think I like you" and the straightforward proposition "You can be my fuck tonight" pack an amyl nitrite charge it would be pretentious to deny, and the poppers keep on coming right through the bonus tracks of porn-lite funk-lite that's quirky and clever front to back. Moreover, it's possible the stupidity of the sex symbol up front is an illusion exploited by her legal guardians and maybe even the symbol herself. But it's such a convincing illusion that any guy who goes all the way with it has too much libido invested in the bimbo fantasy. She's just too straight-faced with the botched Bellamy Brothers joke, the nauseous "Your body look so sick I think I got the flu," the abstemious "Steaming like a pot full of vegetables," the concupiscent "I'm a little selfish" become the childish "I'm a little sailfish." As for her female fans, let's call the attraction the bimbo strategy--the slut who calls the shots. Good luck with that one, ladies. I mean it. B+

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