Ultra Vivid Scene

Joy 1967-1990

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Kurt Ralske claimed that the title of Ultra Vivid Scene's second album was meant to be the inscription on a 23-year-old woman's tombstone. While Ralske's lyrics still make Trent Reznor sound like Joris-Karl Huysmans (the S&M-tinged "Praise the Low" is a particular eyeball-roller, though the way the arrangement manages to sound both Celtic and new agey while not sounding the least like Enya is impressive), Joy 1967-1990 is a much more varied and even more pop-oriented album than 1988's Ultra Vivid Scene. Hugh Jones' ultra-glossy production, rather surprisingly, actually suits the narcotic haze of Ralske's songs quite nicely and has the added benefit of leaving Ralske's musings well behind the album's real selling points, the gossamer web of acoustic and electronic instruments and Ralske's knack for melodies that simultaneously sound exceptionally catchy and just a little off. Mention must be made, however, of the fact that "Special One" (which features vocals by Kim Deal) sounds so much like Big Star's "September Gurls" that Alex Chilton could sue for royalties.

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