Waterproof Blonde

Glitter Lust

(Label X; 2003)

By Amir Nezar | 31 December 2007

You can feel this EP pushing its toe against the line between pure FM/college radio accessibility and actual effort. While it is enjoyable at points, you know that Waterproof Blonde said to themselves, "well, we should get some air time for this stuff; hopefully the big labels will notice!" And really, should you think I'm full of shit, or doubt my conjecture, I have only to smugly point you to the press kit, where you might notice such indicators as the quotation from the Louisville Eccentric Observer that "Glitter Lust is certainly a strong bid to grab attention from some of the industry's bigger fish." Or, and never have I ever thought it conceivable that a press kit would gush about this: "Come On" was recorded for World Wrestling Entertainment as the theme for Smackdown Superstar Sean O'Haire. So hah.

Yikes. Why would you ever advertise this nugget? Why would you set yourself up for failure with quotes that prepare you for a nailing onto the crucifix of irony? Example: "Waterproof Blonde's Glitter Lust is one more reason to wonder why more bands aren't breaking from this River City," says Louisville Music News' Kevin Gibson. See, kids, when you advertise this as positive press, failing to deliver means you've just fucked yourself, because then the reaction is, "well no wonder more bands aren't breaking from this River City."

Now. It's not fair to pan a band for displaying good press for themselves that just happens to be solely from their home town. Yet: Waterproof Blonde don't really give you anything striking. The reason they're not breaking out too much from their home town is because to break out you've got to have some kind of fresh, break-out sound. At least imitate one, or cop it. Instead, Waterproof Blonde present an effort that is pure average alternative rock. They're starting out behind the curve - generic alt-rock was for the mid 90's, and good alt-rock (ala R.E.M.) was and (if it still exists) is light years ahead of the vast majority of this EP. It was about different, "alternative," if you will, songwriting, usually meaningful lyrics, and, like with all good rock (alternative or otherwise), good hooks.

Waterproof Blonde do have a couple decent hooks. And while the production is super-clean, it's not sick. And the guitars are pretty solid. Vocalist Rachel Hagan is confident, clean, and smart in her delivery, even if her lyrics can border on the perfectly awful ("I'm blowing like Vesuvius," anyone?). Or when she has this super-cute voice going, like a "for-14-and under" kids' version of Kim Deal, singing "I want to be with a novelist / Spend my nights on a cocaine binge." She's not subtle, I'll give her that. She croons about "glitter lust," she sings about being "a rock star," she wants you to "come on! take your best shot." Who sang "hit me with your best shot" again…?

But then again, they do have a few decent hooks, and ultimately, Waterproof Blonde are inoffensive and even pleasant on occasion, that is, before we reach "Come On." It's just that with weak ballads like "Ruthless," they oughtn't to expect to break out of Louisville. When, on "Supermodel Craving," the guitars at least have some kind of filthy edge to them, Waterproof Blonde are at their best. Their guitar dynamic is usually at least somewhat decent, and their occasionally solid chorus does manage to differentiate them ever so slightly from a good deal of tripe. It's just that they've taken a step out of it with one foot still lingering in the dungheap.

Oh, but I can't forget "Come On" - after all, it was written for World Wrestling Entertainment. Oh no, I won't let that one slide. The critical shotgun is absolutely trying to tear out of the crate. Why? Because the song is pure Andrew WK-esque drivel, complete with a "come on choir" (I'm not even kidding you) that's thanked in the insert. Kids, the days of dumb cock-rock were over before they began; and here Waterproof Blonde are resurrecting it on this EP. What sort of self-deprecation is this? And, lest you forget exactly how awful it was the first time around, Waterproof Blonde include a remix. Which…actually isn't any kind of significant remix? Well. There goes 10 percentage points in their rating. When exactly one third of the EP is painful, you can't expect anything more, especially if there's little else that really stands out.

I would feel bad about wailing on these guys if they really tried their best to produce music with the understanding that it ought to be an effort in artistic ambition. But the unavoidable feeling is that the ambition here falls into the commercial category; they want to break out, they'll take any exposure they can get, even if it be from WWE, of all things. When it comes down to it, while this kind of ambition might fly with a mainstream critical audience, with indie critics it's a nail in the coffin. If Waterproof Blonde don't give us something more substantial than air come LP-production time, they'll only find themselves deeper in a self-dug artistic grave.