|She Wants Revenge
May 24, 2011
Churning out dark, dance-y, sexual under-toned music seems to be the wheelhouse for the San Fernando Duo She Wants Revenge. The release of their third LP ValleyHeart follows a string of EP releases that were promising in both that they kept what they know as their bread and butter (just listen to “Tear you apart” to know the starting point) but also took the scope of their sound and tried to expand it beyond their original boundaries. (Whether correct or not in the long run all artists who truly want to push themselves need to do this.)
The success or failure of a band after their first successful release (taking into account the aforementioned boundary pushing) is up for debate from listener to listener and from critic to critic, but as often as so many arguments go, the truth to the answer lies somewhere between. Not that it’s an anti-climatic solution to a sincere debate about musical talent, and the product of that talent, but the limitation of an artist (even the great ones) always is evident within the process.
Their first album, the self titled She Wants Revenge was received positively for its dark, sonically churning beats, consequently conjuring visions of Depeche Mode, the Psychedelic Furs, and even a trimmed down Cure. An ever present techtronic feel allows those who like to box music up into little sub-titled genres to call them “dark pop” or “dark wave.” Others would call them post-punk or dark new wave. Whatever. I guess in a sense that whatever your debut album sounds like is what genre you’re most likely to be labeled as consistently. (Apologies about my almost tangent on sub-genre labeling… Back to the point.)
ValleyHeart delivers on the promises of what we all expect from a She Wants Revenge album; dark synths, sexually laden lyrics of desire, love, loss and lust are all presented as only front-man Justin Warfield knows how. A stellar opening track and first single, “Take the World,” sparkles like lights and laser beams reflecting around a dry-iced laden club. With a little more instrumentation, an emphasis on guitars and drums do hold some of the tracks together. You can sense the progress and attempt of growth from straight electronics and the sexual but sometimes monotonous tone of Warfield’s voice. Not to say they do this completely successfully; tracks such as “Kiss my now,” “Not just a Girl” and “Holiday Song” offer little in the dark blasts of pulsating sexual dance beats which have come to define their sound. (And at best are mediocre pop songs.)
The album has its collective gems, and these are more than the straight forward me and you on the dance floor with a churning electronic beat mimicking the moments of desire and lust. “Suck it up,” “Up in Flames,” the previously mentioned “Take the world” and “Maybe She’s Right” offer the same danceable grooves for dark cornered club dwellers and more. Sweeping melodies and soaring choruses with just the right dose of electronics on the surface give each song a different feel yet never lose the type of driving force that shot She Wants Revenge into our listening consciousness in the first place.
In the end, the more loyal fans will view ValleyHeart as a success. They will argue that the songs with less of a dark wave feel are mere progress and the stretching of boundaries in attempt to not become stale. Others will argue that beyond some of the undeniably great tracks in the mold of what we’ve come to expect from James Warfield and Adam Bravin, the more causal and newer listener is left wanting. Are they trying to become more poppy and lighthearted? Are they merely experimenting with a wider scope to their musical chops? I don’t know, but I can relate to their possible confusion.
Ultimately, I am a fan; I think this is a good album and well worth the listen. I do prefer the darker electronic laden beats with outer space synths/effects, and here’s hoping for more to come in the future. But are they on a path to completely break away from what got them where they are? I know I’m not alone in hoping the answer is no.
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Reviewer Bio - Tim Rosini is part of the editorial team at Onlinerock team. Having a background in English literature with a concentration in creative writing, Tim found himself working for various magazines and websites after moving out to the west coast last summer. Having the ability to adapt his focus from business writing to creative fiction he has found a great place to exercise his passion for music on the onlinerock website.