Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • 5 Live [The Enclave, 1996] A-
  • Black Eye [Capitol, 1996] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

5 Live [The Enclave, 1996]
Guitars basic not hookless, tempos fast not hyper, attitude bombed not nihilistic, these London lasses are as pure punk as the '90s get. These songs will never again sound as raw or desperate as on this 15-minute swatch of their May return to CBGB--not on record. It's one of those rare live moments that signifies in the living room. They're pumped, and you can hear it. A-

Black Eye [Capitol, 1996]
Am I forgetting somebody, or is this the most unrelenting (and, not to hedge any bets, best) punk debut since the glory days of Ramones-Pistols-Clash? OK, Wire, but really. When the big loud production by Clash/Pistols veteran Bill Price, tweaks classic riffs for hard rock oomph, the riffs carry the power surges, and except for the fame one, the songs live up to the underlining. Amanda Rootes's sex life is at best a draw, but she knows its garish details thoroughly enough to convince anyone willing to stand up there while she spits them out that sooner or later she'll walk away with a victory. Her rage doesn't mean she's strong--it means she's hellbent on getting there. A

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