Sunday, October 9, 2016

Review of My Favorite's "Love at Absolute Zero"

I posted this on the Sputnik Music website this morning. It's a reworked version of a review I wrote for Good Times in 1999.

I first reviewed this album for a local Long Island music paper a number of years ago when it first came out. At that time I observed that one of the greatest joys in following a local music scene is to keep track of a band for a number of years, watching their growth and development, and then seeing them successfully capture the essence of what you liked about them in the first place on an LP. Love at Absolute Zero by the Long Island band My Favorite turned out to be the first of only two full-length albums ultimately produced by the band. It completely captured all of the promise of the young band I followed through live shows and previously released EPs. If you have any predisposition to like indie-pop, you’re sure to enjoy this album. You might even rank it as a CD for the ages. It’s really that good.

My Favorite consisted of Michael Grace Jr. on vocals, synthesizers, and piano, Andrea Vaughn on vocals and synthesizers, Darren Amadio on lead guitar and assorted other instruments, Gil Abad on bass, and Todbot on drums and percussion. The general sound here is sort of '60s mod meets '80s dance music. However, their songs are sophisticated and well written enough to make that description a gross oversimplification.

Vocally, the album is a sheer delight. Grace’s low, romantic crooning contrasts perfectly with Vaughn’s pure, sweet voice, as they trade leads both between and within songs. If you close your eyes, you might think you’re listening to a British '80s band, such as Human League – Grace even sounds British.

The songs themselves, however, are what really drive the album. The pace varies nicely between upbeat sing-along anthems such as “Let’s Stay Alive”, “Go Kid Go” and the “Informers”, and slow, dreamy synth-songs such as “Party Crashers” and “Between Cafes”. Meanwhile, the lyrics somehow manage to blend a sort of sad, world-weary cynicism with an unexpected optimism and love of life. When you listen to these songs, and to the way that Grace and Vaughn sing them, you can’t help but feel their sincerity. These are people who really like and empathize with their audience.

From a critical point of view, there are few flaws to mention. It might be somewhat disappointing to the band’s followers that popular favorites such as "Cult Hero, Come Home", and “Detectives Of Suburbia” were excluded from the album, and one could pose the argument that the older 7" single version of “Working Class Jacket” was a superior mix to the album version. Really, though, these points are trivial compared to the enormity of what My Favorite achieved on this album – a very complete fulfillment of the promise of their early years.

If you have any love at all for catchy pop tunes, do yourself a favor -- dig this album up and give it a listen.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars