She Wants Revenge

This Is Forever

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Somehow, She Wants Revenge found a way to follow the post-post-punk rulebook even more closely on This Is Forever than they did on their self-titled debut. Robotically doomy vocals with a faux-British accent? Check. Eerie keyboard textures? Check. Insistent basslines and alternately strummy and angular guitars? Check and check. As on She Wants Revenge, goth, gloom, and glamour are the order of the day, but even if Justin Warfield and Adam "Adam 12" Bravin have made their music into even more of a caricature on This Is Forever, they sound more confident. They're even willing to play with some irony: the album's cover mirrors the artwork of their debut, except now the girl is wearing all-black, all-purpose wedding/funeral undies, and "She Will Always Be a Broken Girl" sounds like a more bittersweet sequel to She Wants Revenge's "These Things." Warfield and Bravin give equal weight to all of their influences; Depeche Mode, Joy Division, and Interpol are equally worthy of emulating, and the glammy, shuffling beat of "True Romance" makes it feel like a love song dedicated to Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus," while the lovelorn musings of "It's Just Begun" could've been ripped from Paul Banks' diary. The band's imitation of their idols gets close to crossing the line between flattery and parody, especially when it comes to She Wants Revenge's lyrics. They play like post-punk madlibs, as on "Checking Out"'s "She's like the devil to me/Though she claims she's found Jesus/Her religion is killing me/Lets her do whatever she pleases." And yet, it's She Wants Revenge's ability to boil these sounds and sentiments down to their essence (and sometimes, lowest common denominator) that makes them distinctive. They're at their best when they have their tongues lodged firmly in their sculpted, angst-ridden cheeks, as on the snidely danceable "What I Want" and "Written in Blood," which "neg" their little girls lost with more putdown come-ons than The Pick Up Artist's Mystery. While a few songs put the "meh" back in melodramatic ("Walking Away," "This Is the End"), This Is Forever is full of catchy songs that improve on the band's first album.

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