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Laura Dawn | Believer | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop

Laura Dawn

Believer (Extasy International)
by Scott Hefflon

Almost passed on this thing... An advance with no follow up (no artwork, and on an elusive label that seems to not have a staff or mailing address, simply an imprint for WB or something), but Laura Dawn was the hot singer in the all-girl NYC punkish rock band Fluffer, and they were pretty damn good. Always thought they never got their chance to go the distance. And this solo stuff, sure, it plays up the "I'm from Iowa - so I like singer/songwriter storytellers - but I now live in the East Village and have an edge, and did I mention I was in a pretty rockin' all-girl punk band?" angle, but Bif Naked is a lot more diverse than the way that hottie was packaged and sold to us (good understanding of pop songwriting, but kind of a dingbat, ya know?), so I'm all for trying to get below the surface (among other things) of these neatly-packaged icons to see if there's anything there. Michelle Branch has potential, Pink is dumb as a fuckin' rock (but a rock we all wanna rub against, to kinda confuse the metaphor).

Most of Believer is adult contemporary contemptuousness. You know the type: The drivel you hear on the radio that yuppie scum unwind to. The bottomscrapers of the Dave Matthews Band/Rod Stewart/Eric Clapton mind-numb scene. Mildly country, kinda easy-listening, with just enough "grit" so that corporate alternative losers can convince themselves that they're still mildly hip. The vocals are way upfront, but that's probably cuz there's not a lot else to hold onto. Laura can sing, but she ain't nothing special. And her "poetic observations" are pretty standard fare. This ain't Suzanne Vega, Bif Naked, or - what's her name - Linda Perry, of Four Non Blondes. And flirtations with The Breeders and Sinead kinda smell like "look, here are my Breeders and Sinead-ish songs," ya know? "I Would" is evidently the single, and is pretty predictable and strummy and sappy, like an instantly forgettable tender scene in Dawson's Creek or something. The only real stand-out is the peppy "The Old You" which is a "punky snarl" of a song with full-on "making out in the backseat" imagery, but mixed with all breathy Bif vocals and short-changing "the rock." This song, if it were followed up and fine-tuned (and remixed to have more balls), could be as cool as Kay Hanley/Letters to Cleo's cover of Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me" in Ten Things I Hate About You.


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