Melissa Auf der Maur

Auf der Maur

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Melissa Auf der Maur floated through the background of post-commercial alternative music in the late '90s, joining Hole as a bassist after Kristen Pfaff's death in 1994, then jumping ship for the Smashing Pumpkins after Courtney Love's band imploded in the aftermath of Celebrity Skin. She became something of an alt-rock sex symbol during this time, with her wild, curly mane of hair and waifish goth look garnering far more attention than whatever musical contributions she lent to either Hole or the Pumpkins, and that sex symbol status gave her a small cult that eagerly awaited her solo debut, Auf der Maur, which was released in the U.K. in 2003 and made it to America in the summer of 2004. Those who had a crush on Auf der Maur might find listening to Auf der Maur something like meeting up with a college crush in the present day and finding that, while you've moved on, your object of attraction hasn't changed much. There's a certain nostalgic appeal to that, since it brings back forgotten memories, little details that have been lost in the passage of time. However, it's not quite the same as looking at old photos or listening to favorite albums, which are artifacts that haven't changed over the years. With Auf der Maur, the presentation has changed, and it's a little slicker and more polished than it was seven or eight years ago (witness how she over-enunciates "I'm gonna shuffle his deck clean" on "Followed the Waves"). Subjects that once were darkly mysterious and enthralling are now a little embarrassing and juvenile (the lyric "I need filling, my love" on "Taste You"). Ultimately, it's hard to avoid that Auf der Maur is living in the past, re-creating 1996 and acting like she's still 24 and not facing her mid-thirties -- something that doesn't always wear well, but sometimes, it's easy to succumb to Auf der Maur's relative charms. But even if you do succumb, it's a temporary thing, a brief indulgence in nostalgia, and not the foundation of a long-term relationship, nor is it quite as good as hauling out the old albums one more time.

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