Watson Twins
"Fire Songs"

(Vanguard Records 2008)Watson Twins - Fire Songs

RE: the cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven." The Cowboy Junkies' cover of Sweet Jane was lauded (and cursed) by listeners because of how well the band Junkified it: they not only slowed it and stripped it down but they really sang it, teasing out many of the nascent harmonies that Lou Reed, with his nasal singspiel, probably didn't even hear when he wrote the song. (Reed himself said he liked their version better, although he must have been stoned at the time.)

The Watsons do much the same with "Just Like Heaven," on this, their first full-length. As much as it fits in sonically with the rest of the album's downtempo mostly generic Americana, I'm not feeling it. It's mostly mood, and very little catharsis--kind of like the whole album.

"Fire Songs" is a solid batch of MP3s, a good album and the kind that actual listeners will dig and critics (like me, sorry) will shrug over, only because it's just not that exciting.

I confess I do like "Dig a Little Deeper," a hooky, mid-tempo jam. And album opener "How Am I to Be" gives She and Him's "I Was Made for You" some competition for '60s-Girl-Group-inspired song of the year, although it's not as overt an homage.

But listening to the rest of the record I am overcome with the urge to grill a tuna steak; write in my journal; drink chai; maybe puff a nice, mild cavendish.

Writing songs like this is no crime, musically speaking--except for "Waves," a song so insipid, and so efficient in its insipidness, I think even Natalie Merchant might doze off. Chandra and Leigh: Reach for your Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris records. Listen. Repeat. Was that so hard?

B

buy it!