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In Brief: Pop Music


The Coral The Coral (Columbia)

There’s nothing “THE” about The Coral, and as Martha Stewart might have said in better times, that is a very good thing. Let me explain: On its self-titled debut, this Liverpudlian band proves that it has nothing in common with the rapidly multiplying number of “The”-named bands—the D4, the Libertines, the Datsuns—acts making garage rock the most conservative thing in pop since Union Jack–hoisting, mid-nineties Brit-poppers. Alas, that’s where the Coral’s uniqueness begins—and ends. Instead of nicking from Nuggets, the Coral preys on psychedelia, specifically Pink Floyd (“Simon Diamond”) and the more hallucinatory moments of the Who (“Goodbye”). The mind-expansiveness of the Coral even extends to the collagey Sgt. Pepper–esque album art. The Coral seems to spell out its underwater obsessions in sonics: Nearly every song on the album features aqueous-sounding vibes. Only an “Under the Sea” prom theme plumbs the depths of the ocean with more single-mindedness. It probably isn’t fair to single out the Coral for regressiveness. Nostalgia is the currency of the moment everywhere in pop, from hand-me-down Green Days to wannabe Gangs of Four. Right now, a dose of amnesia could be a very good thing.

T.A.T.U. “All the Things She Said” (Interscope).

T.A.T.U.—two teenage russian girls who are purportedly lesbian lovers—is aimed at the sort of man who believes that the stripper giving him a $20 lap dance is actually enjoying herself (or reads Maxim). Yet this see-through sham doesn’t matter, because T.A.T.U.’s single “All the Things She Said” is so weirdly affecting: The song, which features the duo’s chipmunky vocals and wonderfully, theatrically tacky production from former Frankie Goes to Hollywood maestro Trevor Horn, can only be described as Euro trance-rock. It’s as garishly original as the marriage of dancehall and pop on the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.” T.A.T.U. has put the naughty-girl subtext of Britney Spears out front without the self-help, this-is-who-I-am platitudes of Christina Aguilera. They may be as cynical and manufactured as Prince’s Vanity 6, but they’re true nasty girls all the same.


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