Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Pizzicato Five: Made in USA [Matador, 1994]
Avant-pop fixtures in Japan, they're considerably more skillful than our home-grown lounge-wave bands. And despite sonics brittler than anything fashioned by Juan Garcia Esquivel, their fondness for post-1963 black dance music insures a better beat. But they have an attitude problem: an affectlessness that renders them more unreadable than Madonna or John Waters or the Pet Shop Boys or any other pop ironyworker except Saint Andy, who both invented the stance and did more with it. It's my policy never to give an inch to recording artists who say things like, "Without the visuals, people wouldn't understand us." And although I might get it if I were Japanese, I'm not. In fact, I could even surmise that their failure to reveal the emotional core that glints out from Madonna and Waters and especially the Pet Shop Boys bespeaks a repressed culture that has zero claim on an alien's empathy. But I won't. B