She Wants Revenge brings angst back to pop

by Beacon Staff • January 25, 2006

Its members, guitarist/vocalist Justin Warfield and bassist/keyboardist Adam Bravin, remain teenagers at heart, agonizing over every awkward interaction from middle school dances through similar encounters and experiences in love and lust all the way through graduation.,She Wants Revenge is stuck in the '80s, both in sound and spirit.

Its members, guitarist/vocalist Justin Warfield and bassist/keyboardist Adam Bravin, remain teenagers at heart, agonizing over every awkward interaction from middle school dances through similar encounters and experiences in love and lust all the way through graduation.

The music of She Wants Revenge, however, fondly pays tribute to pop radio circa 1985, which had diverse sounds from Madonna to Echo and the Bunnymen.

The result?

She Wants Revenge's eponymous debut (which hits stores this Tuesday but is currently available for download from iTunes and Rhapsody) is an uneven but intriguing collection fueled by teenage angst and drum machines.

The opening track, "Red Flags and Long Nights," however, instantly brings to mind a contemporary band: Interpol. Not only does "Red Flags" bear a strong resemblance to Interpol's "Untitled," Warfield's disconnected drone enhances the similarities.

It would be easy to write She Wants Revenge off as an Interpol rip-off, but similarity between them comes from common ancestry. SWR is indebted most to post-punk pioneers like Bauhaus and Joy Division. The single "Tear You Apart," which has recently received local airplay on FNX, begins with guitar rakes that pay homage to Bauhaus' first single, "Bela Lugosi's Dead."

SWR is competing with many bands, including Interpol, to be dubbed the "next Joy Division" by music critics everywhere.

Joy Division singer Ian Curtis' disturbing vocals, created and aided by his mental anguish, were a perfect match to the band's dark but danceable music. SWR tracks like "I Don't Want to Fall in Love" incorporate some elements of the Joy Division atmosphere, but punctuate it with the later New Order pop stylings. Unlike those bands, however, She Wants Revenge is a duo, which severely limits the scope of the sound; by the end of the album, the stale drum machines have outworn their welcome.

The accompanying synthesizers, however, create undeniable (albeit derivative) hooks from a surprisingly lush production. As a result, the songs fall somewhere between the simple synthesizers of Depeche Mode (who easily could have been responsible for "Out of Control"), and the all-out industrial rock of Nine Inch Nails.

The dark lyric content destroys the pop sensibilities of some of the tunes. The worst offender is "Sister," which, given its ambiguous characters, is either an ode to deflowering dirty nuns or true sibling love.

The track's narrator says "you better lie down 'cause the angels are watching / she closed her eyes and said quit the talking / you can hurt me do whatever you like."

Other songs tackle taboos like SM and masturbation, which could hurt possible radio play.

Less FCC-loathed topics appropriate for the airways have their spot as well, like the club drama of "Out of Control," and the self-explanatory "She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not."

Most of SWR's lyrics are the figurative fodder found as scribbles of heartbreak and hurt feelings in a high school student's notebook, which can be trite, but at least the band targets topics that have affected just about everyone at one time.

For example, the story of "Tear You Apart" could have easily come from a long-lost John Hughes film: "they took a step back, thought about it, what should they do /

'cause there's always repercussions when you're dating in school / but their lips met, and reservations started to pass / whether this was just an evening or a thing that would last."

And the people who have likely lived this situation have come out to support the band: She Wants Revenge has more than 17,000 friends on myspace.com, the social networking Web site that has recently become a marketing hot spot for many musical acts.

It remains to be seen whether or not these fans will support the band as it continues to develop. She Wants Revenge, however, has promise and enough sense about electronic music to break through, provided the lyric content becomes less macabre and more universal.,Bryan O'Toole