Release Date: 06.08.04
Record label: Hollywood Records
Genre(s): Trance, Big Beat, Ambient, House, Trip-Hop, etc.
Pretty, Funny, But Plent of Disturbing Undercurrents
by: matt cibula
That, of course, is massively unfair…kind of. On the one hand, they’ve been singing together all their lives, and shouldn’t have to apologize for their audience’s fear of Natalie Maines. Their voices are pretty enough, they’re telegenic and engaging enough in their own right, and Kristyn Osborn writes a lot more of SHeDAISY’s songs than any of the Chicks have ever done on their own records. So let me retract that opening statement…kind of.
Because these are definitely well-done songs. "Passenger Seat,” the first single, just jumps out from the radio all smiles, a tale about how cool it can be sitting next to the one you love: “When I look to the left, see his suntanned hands / His muddy river hair and his thousand-acre plans / I’m all shook up like a quarter in a can”. The harmonies are tight and light and just as nice as they need to be, and it’s all very adorable.
And then there’s the album’s centerpiece, the fun romp “Don’t Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” a hootenanny wherein our plucky heroines dish the dirt about life: “Ever sat yourself down when the seat is all wet / Or seen your ex suckin’ face with a little brunette?” They sing about taxes and Nashville politics and the size of their asses (I’m not kidding, gotta be the first mention of “junk in the trunk” in a country song), and they go “blah blah blah blah” before nailing the chorus—self-deprecation, that underused rhetorical trope, is on FIRE here.
And the sad songs are incredibly sad: we have “I should have known I’d never own / This borrowed home” and “I happened to you, you happened to me / But now that’s gone” and “I will live behind closed doors / To keep from hearing what I already know.” And the love/lust songs sound like there’s some real passion there, especially “360º of You,” where they totally perv on some random guy while checking out his butt. Which is cool.
But let’s back up to the single. Why does the song need to be about being in the passenger seat? And why does the next song, “5, 4, 3, 2, Run,” punish its footloose protagonist for breaking free of her small little town? What seems at first like a song celebrating freedom ends up calling its central character a “truck-stop trollop” and laughing at her for having to call back home for help. There’s something very mean-spirited about that.
And there’s something really creepy about “Good Together (Bucket and Chicken),” an attempt at a cutesy little love song but sporting some of the craziest lyrics I’ve heard this year: “You got the bucket baby / I’ve got the chicken” is okay, but then “You got the Smith and Wesson / I got the ammunition”? What’s going on here? And then “You’re a pesky little fly / I’m the pink plastic swatter / You’re a back-seat kinda guy / And I’m the bishop’s daughter”? Okay, that last one is kinda great, but you see my point.
And I’m not even gonna touch “A Woman’s Work,” which may or may not glorify a serial killer because she’s a Christian woman. Sure, they say she’s a “zealot Jezebel” and they talk about the voices in her head, but they also call her “a Saint sent to purify the human condition”—oh, that’s right, I said I wasn’t gonna touch this one. Still though.
Overall, while I think the Osborns are very good singers and that Kristyn is certainly a very talented writer, this record scares the HELL out of me. Either you’re a self-deprecating good old girl sitting in the passenger seat, being the bullets in your boyfriend’s pistol and dreaming of a wedding ring—or you’re a Jezebel selling yourself on the side of the road or maybe, just maybe, going out in a blaze of horrible, perhaps God-sanctioned, glory. I might listen to this album a few more times, just to make sure I’m not wrong (and to devour some of those delicious hooks), but I’m not sure I’ll let my daughter hear it. I want her to be driving the car; she’s not gonna be ammunition for someone else’s gun. 14-Jul-2004 11:00 PM