Bif Naked

Superbeautifulmonster

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Released ten years after her debut, Superbeautifulmonster is Bif Naked's fourth album of original material. Not exactly a prolific work schedule, and her body of work isn't the most diverse, either: she's been mining an angst-ridden, confessional, metal-inflected punk-pop vein since her debut. She's stuck with the sound when it was in fashion in the mid- to late '90s as well as when it was out of fashion at the turn of the millennium, and she sticks with it in 2005, when neo-alternative rock is common, if not exactly fashionable. As they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and that's kind of the case with Bif Naked: she fit in when this sound was new, and she fits in again now that the sound has been revived. Of course, it helps that her lyrics are still somewhat stuck in late adolescence, whether she's writing about alienation, anger, or lust, since that arrested development gives her music a weird sense of sincerity. Musically, she's long been working power ballads and touches of metal into her alt-rock, but this isn't as big or glossy as Purge -- the music is a bit stripped-down, even when she's doing soul-searching pop like "Everyday" or anthemic rock like "Henry." At times, she can sound more like Pink than is perhaps comfortable for longtime fans, but before that impression has the chance to settle in for good, she's back to louder, tougher rock that's closer to a tuneful Courtney Love with a work ethic and sense of discipline. That doesn't mean that Superbeautifulmonster is cohesive, however. Bif Naked tries too hard to have introspective ballads, heavy rockers, and punk attitude all at once for this to really gel into a consistent LP. Nevertheless, she does have some strong songs, a palpable magnetism on record and an over-arching sincerity that makes Superbeautifulmonster ingratiating even when it doesn't quite work, or when it sounds just a little bit like it's a little bit stuck in the past.

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