As my record of the year nothing else came close to actually. I realize word has it that they’re about pop music but I don’t hear it that way at all: for me they do what pop has always done, which is to at once make sense of life and heighten it. The music is alive on its own terms, which, if they are self-referential, don’t communicate that way: there’s a vocal interplay at the end of “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” that’s just bottomless in its complexity, in its pure delight in texture and mixing. Listening to “Rent,” I wonder where the melody came from–did they happen on it, say, My god, we’ve got an all-time pop melody here, what words can we write that could live up to it, or did they derive that all-time pop melody out of a serious lyric, sardonic wit, etc? And I don’t understand, just don’t get, the people who say the singing is flat, wimpy, pallid, emotionless, and so on. It’s anonymous–like all the best early punk voices.
Village Voice, March 1, 1988
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