Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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L7 are four snotty young women from L.A. who've graduated to a major after two thrash longforms and a bunch of compilation cameos. The Roches are three jokey over-35 sisters from New York who made two fine folk albums in the '70s and have been going pop ever since. L7's Bricks Are Heavy (Slash) and the Roches' A Dove (MCA/Paradox) may seem wildly dissimilar beyond a certain independent female mien. But though neither will sell as much as it deserves, both are object lessons in how to advance your music by meeting the marketplace halfway.

The means to L7's end is Butch Vig, the producer who taught Nirvana to go for it. Once again his mission is to smelt speed-sludge into grunge-metal alloy, which in L7's case involves intense admixtures of ditty and power chord. Bricks Are Heavy never quite gathers Nirvana's momentum, but it's just as catchy and a touch nastier. Read-my-title outbursts like Wargasm, Diet Pill, and Shitlist fulfill the ancient prophecy of a time when gurls (or grrrls, as some now spell it) would reinvent punk out of sheer delight in their own power.

A Dove takes the Roches into a whole-hearted synth-and-guitar folk-pop as unearthly and unmistakable as their harmonies and sheds the wacky whimsy that has always been their strength and their escape. Instead, their humor shows up in songwriting that's almost invariably serious, but with an edge. Will they marry you? Only if You're the One--which ain't likely.


Fast Cuts: Yo Yo, Black Pearl (Atco/EastWest): tough talk from a true sister; Rosie Flores, After the Farm (HighTone): country singer who thinks your girl has More To Offer than you deserve.

Playboy, June 1992


May 1992 July 1992