Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

78Violet – Hothouse

Potential Comeback Song.


Brad Shoup: Wait, I’m still not done talking about “Closure,” a single that never was but could have been one of the decade’s best. It was a twinkling drone of a post-breakup anthem, with a restlessness cribbed from Karen O. “Hothouse” grabs from the dusky subset of sunshine pop, with pulsing cor anglais and opiate drum programming. There’s a patience I don’t see too often on pop radio — or even alternative, for that matter — the will to let melodies branch, one off the previous, gaining power in the process.

Katherine St Asaph: If Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob crossover came in 1998, not 2013, when the charts could still nurture hothouse flowers alongside spangly aluminum pop baubles. Extra point for the descant.

Anthony Easton: I don’t know enough about Aly and AJ, but this is fantastic. The horns are sinuous, and how they sing “in the beginning” has that spooky chanteuse thing that has become popular (equal parts Lana Del Rey and Father John Misty), and how the whole thing is mostly a spitting condemnation of rivals is bitchy enough to be interesting. I like when name changes suggest other changes.

Alfred Soto: The breathy vocals for sure sound like someone hyperventilating in a greenhouse, loudly and intensely enough to forgo concision and melody. For younger members of the audience who forgot what A&R men did to pop in the early nineties, here it is: the heirs of Joan Osborne and Shawn Colvin.

Edward Okulicz: I keep thinking that with just a bit of an adjustment I could sing Nightwish’s “The Crow, The Owl and the Dove” over the top of this. “Hothouse” has folk and psychedelia along with 90s female singer-songwriter detritus in its mixed lineage and is professional to a fault, but it’s floaty and waffly — expansive suits the genre more than it suits these women’s writing style. Compared to something which bristled with personality like “Chemicals React,” it’s downright inert. Pretty, though.

Crystal Leww: Writing your own songs doesn’t make you a better or more talented pop star, but it was always an incredibly noteworthy feature of Aly & AJ’s music. “Hothouse” sounds a lot more like what people might expect from something of the “singer-songwriter” genre. In an attempt to give themselves a “mature” sound that might give them more rockist cred, the sisters lost their ear for hooks that might actually stick. It’s a shame; they really had a knack for the pop game.

Jonathan Bogart: The video is on an extremely Heavenly Creatures tip (the song doesn’t start until 3:30 in, for the wary), which doesn’t quite mesh with the Jon Brion-era-Aimee Mann instrumentation (okay, sure, maybe the theremin), but as a slice of what aging rock-vinyl collectors will still insist on calling “perfect pop” (Rickenbackers! Baroque horn lines! Aforementioned theremins!) it’s engaging and winsome and just slightly unsettling enough to function both as a clean break from whatever past they might want to think they need to break from, and as a ever-maturing continuation of the themes of obsession, love, moral angst, and interiority that the best teenpop has always explored.

Reader average: [7] (1 vote)

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