Veruca Salt crush it on debut American Thighs

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When you lead an album with a single as attention-grabbing as 90s alt-rock gem “Seether”, it’s only fair to have something to match it down the line. In reality, Veruca Salt’s debut American Thighs holds only three additional rock-outs.

Thanks to singer-guitarists Nina Gordon and Louise Post, the frenetic “Seether” is packed with garage-rock grit and lyrical titillation (it was supposedly about a woman’s monthly gift). If the band’s later efforts demonstrated an attraction to heavy metal, then “All Hail Me” stands as a warning. Sonically, it’s the weightiest track on the record, full of chilling wails and galloping guitars.

Number One Blind” sounds like a crossover hit, but for a different band. Nonetheless, the slightly cheesy melody blends surprisingly well with the rest of the record. “Victrola” boasts the same raucous charm as “Seether”, but at barely two minutes in length, it’s a bit throwaway.

So that leaves us with what Rolling Stone described as “flat balladry”. The triptych of “Spiderman ‘79“, “Forsythia” and “Wolf” is an awkward one. All three drag, but only the second fails to reach a bombastic conclusion. “Forsythia” has a cute sashaying riff, but it nosedives into a faceless instrumental when its chorus deserves a poppier structure.

Celebrate You” brings stubborn teenage melodrama and contains the album’s campest lyric: “I tip my glass and toast to you; / the blood spills on the carpet / at your celebration.” Fuzzy power ballad “Twinstar” is lyrically simple (“You wanna lift me up / but you don’t know / I’m stuck in my ways”), but when singer-guitarists Nina Gordon and Post belt that chorus out, it’s a lighter-in-the-air moment.

Ideally, the album should have ended here, but of course there’s an ‘epic’ to slog through. The amateurish “25” is disappointing, although the whispered kiss-off “Sleeping Where I Want To” goes some way towards making amends.

There was something admirable about Veruca Salt’s lack of ambition. What their debut lacks in meaning and experimentation it makes up for with killer hooks melded with a pleasingly hazy atmosphere. While their personal troubles ensured they would never again make quite such an innocent record, American Thighs remains an oddly bewitching relic from a simpler time.

8/10

[Music] Appleton – Everything’s Eventual (review)

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Appleton Everything’s Eventual  (2003, Polydor Records)

The pleasure pop music fans take in imposing an air of redundancy upon certain girl group members is inexplicable. One could look at the vitriol levelled at Michelle Williams after her appearance at Beyoncé’s Super Bowl half time show as an extreme example, but if anything, Williams should feel flattered by the GIF’s and memes that followed (not to mention the ensuing interest in www.poormichelle.com, an electronic shrine to her supposed inadequacies) as such affectionate cyber-bullying can be considered a virtue in comparison to the price those labeled The Other One usually suffer: complete and utter indifference on the part of their audience. Now, it’s safe to assume that during their All Saints heyday (we’ll say ’97 – 01) Natalie and Nicole Appleton suffered no such fate – at least in terms of tabloid interest. But as members of their BRIT award-winning pop group, they were spare parts. At this stage I feel I should point out that I adore the discography that All Saints have behind them. They enjoyed an incredibly strong run of singles; thanks in no small part to Shaznay Lewis’ distinctive songwriting, all velveteen vocals and sass served at artic temperatures. But upon listening to the Appleton sister’s debut album Everything’s Eventual, I am left only to imagine what the pair could have brought to the table had they only been given the chance.

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