Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Do the La's claim to sound like some earlier Liverpudlian guitar quartet? Get real--who would buy that line? Instead they claim to hate their debut album, which was years in the making due largely to their bad manners in the studio. And though I believe them, I'm obviously a patsy, because I also believe The La's (London) sounds like you-know-who. The drumming isn't as good, and instead of those cutting harmonies we get the wry, gritty solo vocals of head La Lee Mavers. But sole songwriter Mavers has the rare gift for the catchy-yet-not-cloyingly- cheerful tune without which any good-ol'-pop homage is nothing but hope and hype. Only a sourpuss, or a headline-craving young man, could hate the way they came out here. Mavers is both.

The KLF, two lapsed London art students who have also recorded as the Timelords and the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, exploit a different set of consumable anti-establishment poses. One of the first dance-music production teams to sense the limitless possibilities of sampling, they had a record taken off the market after Abba sued them, and have since evolved into creative modes less likely to attract the attention of copyright lawyers. Their first U.S. major-label release, The White Room (Arista), is nothing more and nothing less than a canny electrohouse album juiced with jarring jolts of beat and electronic noise. In theory I liked them better when they were subverting Whitney Houston. But anybody with the slightest tolerance for Eurodisco might as well start here.

Playboy, July 1991


June 1991 Aug. 1991