Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Melanie: Gather Me [Neighborhood, 1971]
Unlike my straightlaced friends, I've always dug the idea of Melanie--Edith Piaf as Brooklyn waif, preaching the hippie gospel in that absurdly flexible and resonant alto. But I've found the reality cloying. Here she grows up just enough. "Brand New Key" is one of those impossible celebrations of teen libido that renew one's faith in AM radio. "Steppin'" is the best breakup song since "It's Too Late," and though side two slips badly toward the end, she's rarely a simp this time out. B+