Album review: She Wants Revenge – Valleyheart

May 28, 2011
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She Wants Revenge - Valleyheart album artworkTitle: Valleyheart
Artist: She Wants Revenge
Label: Universal Music Canada
Released: 23 May 2011
In one word: Sloganeering

The trouble with imitations is that they are never as good as the real thing. Well, with the exception of own-brand cornflakes… Oh how I miss Tesco’s own label cornflakes, with their bigger, thinner, golden flakes of wonder.

She Wants Revenge from Los Angeles, California are a band whose music falls into the dark wave and post-punk genres. They are also imitators. Mainly because that in many ways post-punk is not so much a genre but a band. That band is Joy Division: that’s where post-punk starts and finishes and everything else can only ever be an imitation or an off-shoot. She Wants Revenge sound like an imitation of an imitation – Justin Warfields nasally singing is reminiscent of Paul Banks of Interpol, while the mopey gothic guitar and synth tones spark take plenty of cues from the likes of Depeche Mode, Bauhaus and the like. But while the likes of Interpol can, at least in terms of their brilliant first album, imitate in a healthily inspired dose which creates their own sound and brand, She Wants Revenge cannot. Although they clearly try to, on this, their third studio album.

Valleyheart actually makes a promising start. The opening keyboard chimes, snappy beats and guitar riffs of first track “Take The World” threaten something ethereal and as Warfield drops some lyrics about sex-powered feelings of taking on the world, it’s a decent start. I had hopes that the rest of the album might play out in a similar vein, and you know, go somewhere, preferably into smoky, pulsing goth rock nightclub anthem territory, rich with gloom and sex but this doesn’t happen. Although I am pretty sure that’s exactly what they were aiming to achieve – I can hear what the band are trying to do, the blueprint is loud and clear. It’s transparent and quickly the music becomes repetitive and bland. The early promise quickly dissipates by the second track, with “Kiss Me” which has some of the most irritatingly prod-prod-prodding-argh-needles-in-my-ears whiney-annoying lyrics I have had the displeasure of hearing in a long time.

The lyrics are one problem; too much musical sloganeering, heavy on keywords from the bands name. Maybe Justin Warfield just isn’t affected enough to come up with the lyrics needed to match his mopey singing. But the biggest issue with Valleyheart is that it so overproduced. The music has been polished to the point of it being sterile. Rock music never sounds good without some dirty fingernails and scraped knees. This is a bland album and it gets tired of itself very quickly. It’s too clean.

It’s a shame that She Wants Revenge left their best two songs until last. With “Holiday Song”, She Wants Revenge get the balance right with plodding, slow-danceable, beats and riffs providing the backing to down-trodden break-up lyrics that finally bring something tangible and relatable to this record: “Christmas time again, the loneliest of all the fear.. Of how we’ll make it to New Years / Raise your glass in toasts, to the one you miss the mosts (sp) / And promise that you won’t be doing this again in twelve months time/ Every day is a day without you, love is gone and I can’t sleep.” It’s a good song, and the references to loneliness in the holiday season is an easy sentiment to grasp, and finally Warfield is singing something I can dig. But alas, ultimately it is too little, too late given it’s the ninth track of the record.

She Wants Revenge? Naw, she needs to listen to a better band. There are no golden flakes of wonder here.

© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice

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She Wants Revenge

Brian Banks

Editor and Founder, Music Vice Magazine. Writer. Photographer. Poet. From Scotland. Not Ireland. Proudly based in Toronto, Canada. Rock N' Roll Don't Pay The Rent... 

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One Response to Album review: She Wants Revenge – Valleyheart

  1. Leslie on June 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Sadly, I have to agree. I was a big SWR fan in 2006. Dark, painfully sexy tunes played in indie clubs and inspiring naughty thoughts (and perhaps, actions).

    I hadn’t kept up with them in years, but when I saw they were playing NYC, I thought it’d be great to see them play those songs I sang in my shower (and car, and aforementioned clubs) live. Unfortunately, they played a lot of their new music, and the crowd didn’t really dig (though Justin said we were a great crowd…). The friend I dragged along didn’t know them, and I kept saying, “Just wait until they play one off their first album—the crowd will go wild.” The crowd certainly perked up, but the overall mood could have been much more energetic.

    I ended up buying the new album there ($10 and Justin signed it for me). I’m listening to it now and am wishing for more grit, more sex, more deviance.

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