Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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****

KIMYA DAWSON
I'm Sorry That Sometimes I'm Mean
Rough Trade

**

ADAM GREEN
Garfield
Rough Trade

As co-auteurs of the Moldy Peaches, Adam Green and Kimya Dawson write as if in a party game: alternately, one line at a time. Somehow, the seamless songs express one sensibility. Unfortunately, their new solo albums are much less consistent. At its best, in titles like "Dance With Me" and "Computer Show," Green's Garfield is a conventional if adenoidal new--(a.k.a. "anti-") folk album. At its worst, it's unconventional, bratty for its own sake. Lines such as "The lump behind the sheet is where the tumor took a shit" are just begging for us to say yuck, so let's.

Although Dawson's I'm Sorry That Sometimes I'm Mean also claims to be anti-folk, the differences are major. Her voice is as slight as Green's, but she knows how to whisper, singsong and texture her tracks with toy keyboards, bird tweets, sirens and, bizarrely, the pull-string doll voices of "Talking Ernest." And can she write. After "Trump Style," a picaresque tale about pirates and roulette, she dissects her own romantic dysfunction three times running, delivering lines such as "Why do I always pretend/I can spoon a guy and still be his friend" as matter-of-fact confessions devoid of self-pity. Then she picks up on her long experience as a day-care worker, climaxing with, Korn fans, please note, a painful and profound abuse song. It helps that the abuse didn't happen to her, that she's a close personal enemy of a certain social worker and that she's not afraid to imagine a verboten way out: suicide. Unconventional? You bet. But only a boor would say yuck.

Rolling Stone, Nov. 14, 2002

Postscript Notes:

Rolling Stone changed the original 4-star grade of I'm Sorry That I'm Mean to 3-star when they published the review, and continue to list it as 3-star on their website. The 4-star grade is correct. The record was graded A in the Consumer Guide.