September 25, 2003

Test Spin: The Wrens

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In the post-Dashboard world of today, expressions of emotion must be inspected for their sincerity with a fine-toothed comb. The Wrens have released a record that has bespeckled indie-dorks running to their livejournals. But be careful of being too critical — The Wrens may scream treason. Before we get too far, let me clarify: this review is not your typical hipster backlash to overwrought neo-Schreiberian indie hype. I mean, I have The Wrens listed under my favorite bands on my Friendster profile, too. But only because it helps me score with makeoutclub.com chicks.

On their first full length in more than half a decade, The Wrens make no major missteps. Unfortunately, the band has done nothing to distinguish itself from the thousands of other emo-core bands that have popped up between the mid-’90s and today. Releasing a record with thirteen songs about girls just won’t cut it. And it doesn’t help that the refrain to the love ballad “She Sends Kisses” resembles “She says, ‘Kiss Ass.'” The worst part is, they’re equally cringeworthy.

And yet, The Meadowlands can be convincing. Fortunately for The Wrens, their idea of sincerity requires irreverence and they have both in spades. In their brazen sentimentality, there are moments when they manage to communicate startlingly affecting music. The Meadowlands succeeds in conveying the feeling that perhaps true heartache comes from living in a state that many refer to as “The Armpit of America.”

The album’s laconic closer, “This is Not What You Have Planned” may break your heart.


Archived article by Walter Chen