November 15, 2003

Vicious Vicious "Blood & Clover"

To be young, smart and suave. If I were two of these things, I would certainly have Vicious Vicious score the soundtrack of my life. After all, I have this feeling that Erik Appelwick is the kind of fellow who throws good parties. From the sound of Blood & Clover, it's apparent that this young man thinks he's pretty classy, and I bet he is, too. Making organ-driven jazzy indiepop songs on a 4-track recorder might not be the most original thing to do these days, but let's not split hairs: Vicious Vicious isn't like lots of other bands. (Translation: Vicious Vicious ain't crap. No,

See, we're living in a post-Dismemberment Plan world now. Who knew that those loveable, hard-working nerds would become so definitive? I sure didn't--nor would I have expected The D-Plan to be the next big anything. I just liked 'em as a band. But, you know, there's this need for quirky jazzy nerd rock, and Vicious Vicious is certainly suited to play that role quite well. Vicious Vicious doesn't sound a thing like the Dismemberment Plan, but they have an abundance of the same weird magical quality as Travis Morrison: intelligence. Oh, and they also share a not-so hidden R&B influence.

Yes, Vicious Vicious have mixed in R&B, jazz, indie-pop and indie rock, and the end results is an album that is filled to the brim with intelligent, thought provoking slowdance numbers that make you want to go to a coffeehouse and order a latte. Really, all of Appelwick's influences are numerous, making for an album that shouldn't work. From the first moments of the slowjam "That's Not How It's s'pose To Be," the mellow grooves chill you out.

"Shake that Ass On The Dancefloor" picks things up a bit, but it's the only time the album falters; it's a token dance song, and it tries a bit too hard to be clever. That's about the only bum moment--unless you consider the fact that at times Appelwick's sincere, earnest singing sounds exactly like Anthony Kiedes. (If that's the case, just skip over track eight "Oh, I Would Do Anything For My Girl," because it's easily a lost Red Hot Chili Peppers moment.)

Blood & Clover is one of the most promising debuts I've heard all year, and I've heard a lot of promising debut albums. While it's really too short and brief to make much of an overwhelming impression, Blood & Clover really does a good job of impressing you with their charm. It's a strong debut, even if at times it's a bit inoculous; put it on if you want to feel mellow. It's a chilled-out record for those of us who want to feel the beat when we need to think.

--Joseph Kyle

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