Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of vocal harmonies. I eat 'em for breakfast and usually have two or three more servings throughout the day. So when I read a bio of Sons of the Never Wrong, pegging them as blending the "best vocal elements of groups like the Mamas and the Papas and the Roches" I was more than intrigued, I was downright piqued! But as the first acoustic/vocal song played and then the second and the third, a continual feeling of disappointment washed over me. Yes, this Chicago trio can sing and weave intricate harmonies that make the head spin but the entire project exudes an aura of PBS and NPR. There... I've said it. I'm completely non-PC and shall soon have my library card revoked. There's just something about these songs that irks me and keeps me from liking them. Perhaps it is the pretentious and obscure lyrics of such songs as "Hallelujah for the Getaway" with such lines as "I was doing my best Roy Rogers,/ Surrounded in the grass/ Hallelujah at the matinee/ With a secret call and a whistle." I'm one of the few who is under the delusion that I can actually understand the lyrics of such bands as They Might Be Giants and 100 Watt Smile, but this is beyond me. Perhaps it is the continual showboating, melodramatic vocal gymnastics that scream out "Hey everybody! Look what we can do!" And then they covered "Getting Better" by The Beatles... so distorted and distended that I didn't recognize it until I read the names of the songs. I am not their target audience.
Of the songs on the album, "My Last Boyfriend" shows the most promise. The fact that it was not written by the author of most of the album is telling... it actually has a melody! The lyrics also reflect a change with such intelligible bits as " You called from the airport when you were travelin' through / We talked about the last nine years in ten minutes / Until your plan took off for Denver." If you love The Roches and watching folk music performers on PBS, add this album to your collection today! Otherwise you're probably better off waiting for the next Ben Folds Five release.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, September 2000.