Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Knack

  • Get the Knack [Capitol, 1979] B-
  • . . . But the Little Girls Understand [Capitol, 1980] C-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Get the Knack [Capitol, 1979]
Cognoscenti I know tend to couch their belief that this is the Anticlash in purely technical terms--harmonies treacly, production punched up, and so forth. Bullshit. I too find them unattractive; if they felt this way about girls when they were unknowns, I shudder to think how they're reacting to groupies. But if they're less engaging musically than, say, the Scruffs, they have a lot more pop and power going for them than, say, the Real Kids. In other words, "My Sharona" is pretty good radio fare and let's hope "She's So Selfish" isn't the next single. Face it, this is a nasty time, and if the Stranglers are (or were, I hope) Sgt. Barry Sadler, these guys are only Freddie and the Dreamers. Docked a notch for clothes sense. B-

. . . But the Little Girls Understand [Capitol, 1980]
When last seen they were onstage at Carnegie Hall, reading that stanza about writers and critics from "The Times They Are A-Changin'," and despite the title this is obviously their stab at artistic respectability, less The Knack's Second Album than Commander Chapman's Nasty Mouths Club Band. Or maybe they understand what critics don't: that little girls think it's cute and sexy to write songs about Mexican guys pimping their wives to Jewish guys. What critics understand and they don't--or maybe they're just so close to satori that they accept their limitations--is that whatever the subject, little girls prefer catchy, punchy second-hand songs to varied, indecisive thirdhand ones. In fact, so do critics. C-

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]