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Slinky but less than earthshattering debut from buzzy manhattanites
Peter Murphy, 27 Mar 2009
Ah, the bright young things arrive with the spring line in pret a porter pop. The Virgins may be hip, privileged and Manhattan-ite, but they betray no interest in slumming their wares in some reimagined CBGBs. Rather, they’re a tight dance-rock combo with a sharp melodic sensibilty and a neat line drainpipe guitars, disco basslines and dampened down drums. And despite the vague air of Less Than Zero blank-eyed beauty, the too-cool-for-school poise and pose, the sheer exuberance of their melodies makes it hard to say no.
The opening ‘She’s Expensive’ and ‘One Week Of Danger’ wed thick guitar riffs and synth bits to disco pulses (handclaps are de rigeur) and singer Donald Cumming’s confident but not too cocky attitude. Songs like ‘Teen Lovers’, ‘Murder’, and ‘Private Affair’ rejoice in a graphics-heavy MTV 1983 sensibility, a remit broad enough to include Tom Tom Club, Talking Heads, Bowie, ‘Planet Earth’ basslines and a Tony Thompson snare drum thud. Warhol would’ve flipped his wig. In this context, the almost anti folk intro of ‘Fernando Pando’ comes as a shock, but soon lapses into the sole Strokesian concession, a white reggae shimmy. Elsewhere, ‘Hey Hey Girl’ is unapologetically halfway between Rick Springfield and The Cars, and while it ain’t exactly retro, it fair makes you pine for Jack and Diane.
The Virgins won’t disrupt the spatial-temporal flow, or even touch your heart much, but with ten savvy songs all clocking in at about three minutes each, it will show you a pretty good time.