Sara Debell

Grunge Lite

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A cash-in concept if there ever was one, Grunge Lite capitalizes on not one, but two of the early '90s hippest trends -- Seattle grunge rock and kitschy easy listening music. So, the album takes grungy punk songs like Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and Mudhoney's "Touch Me, I'm Sick," and Pearl Jam's "Evenflow" and bathes them in synthesizers and strings. If you're treating this seriously -- which you really shouldn't -- you could say that the new arrangements reveal hidden layers of melody, but if you listened to the original records, you would have known that already. If you're treating Grunge Lite like the joke that it is, you could say that it not only shows how overwrought all the "angry, angst-ridden" grunge rock actually is, but also how darned silly those old muzak records are. But that theory assumes that Grunge Lite is actually funny, and it isn't -- it's just smug. Sure, there are some listeners that will find this joke to be inspired and hilarious, but even they will have to concede that the record -- like any novelty album -- is (maybe) funny once, but it becomes more and more irritating with each subsequent listen.

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