Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Doll Revolution

Eighties pop-star quartet returns as an adult songwriting collective

If Doll Revolution is the rare comeback album that doesn't shame the memory it exploits, that's partly because the Bangles were never what they pretended to be. Though their image was cheesy garage-pop, their reality was high-gloss folk-rock, and their covers--such as Prince's "Manic Monday"--always topped their originals, which in modern folk-rock is a mortal sin. But after a 15-year layoff, their material lives up to the middlebrow pretensions they never copped to. Failed solo pop star Susanna Hoffs pledges undying support to a guy who may deserve it because he may be her son. Successful alt-rock lifer Vicki Peterson explains why she never pledged undying support to anyone. Retiring bassist Michael Steele wishes her own hang-ups could let her commit. And Elvis Costello contributes the cover tune that provides the misleading album title. Even if they were dolls, this wouldn't be a revolution.

Blender, Oct. 2003