Hmmm...

I Only Want Love

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A collaboration that has been going on for 15 years has finally yielded fruit. I Only Want Love, Herb Heinz and Mark Briggs' first release as Hmmm..., is a savory meal of quirky pop songs, satirizing social commentary, and experimental studio wizardry. Like most projects in which Heinz is involved (be it Amy X Neuburg & Men or his solo career), this duo offers a tongue-in-cheek look at modern life and modern pop. Screaming guitar solos, inane chorus melodies, and impossible drum machines come together in Zappa-esque fashion, topped by Briggs' sweet-and-sour lyrics -- the line, "I'm the peas and carrots in the feast that feeds the bottom line," from "Peas and Carrots" provided the spark for the artwork. The sharp contrast between the happy 1950s stereotype couple on the cover, the pre-fabricated food, and the highly creative songwriting of this pair is truly something to write home about. Highlights include "Machine," a charming song born out of a sonic magma; the title track; and "Trained Monkey," which in another day and age would have made the Top Five on American Bandstand, despite its anti-conformist lyrics -- but who listened to lyrics back then? The latter features Amy X Neuburg delivering touching "la la las." "Justice" takes a darker turn and adopts a more complicated song structure, while the closing 18-minute "Peas and Carrots" gets stuck in a very long (and slow-changing) loop after the "real" song is over -- feels like waiting in line for the governmental service of your choice (welfare seems to be suggested). I Only Want Love is excellent no-commercial-potential pop, strongly recommended to followers of Neuburg's avant cabaret outfit and fans of very left-field pop.

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