Little Pop Rock

Sister Vanilla

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Little Pop Rock Review

by Tim Sendra

Sister Vanilla's Little Pop Rock is a Reid family reunion, with William and Jim providing guitars and production along with the occasional lead and backing vocals, and sister Linda (who sang Moe Tucker on the last Jesus and Mary Chain record to date, Munki) on lead vocals. It's a Jesus and Mary Chain reunion too because long-time JAMC member Ben Lurie is on board as well. Unsurprisingly, Little Pop Rock sounds a whole lot like a Jesus and Mary Chain record. One with a low-budget, lo-fi approach, but still very much of a piece with their late-period output. Tracks like the surging "Jamcolas" and "Delicat" have the same machine-driven, rock & roll swagger that tracks like "I Hate Rock & Roll" had, "Slacker"'s a country ballad that would have fit right in on Stoned & Dethroned, "Can't Stop the Rock" is a wonderfully knuckleheaded rock anthem the group specialized in. ("Jamcolas" and "Delicat" also feature lead vocals by William and Jim, with Linda in a supporting role.) While it's nice to have another Mary Chain record, what makes the record even better is the presence of Linda Reid. Her charmingly innocent vocals shine some sweetness and light on the proceedings and make songs like "Pastel Blue," "The Two of Us" (a duet with Stephan Pastel), and "Angel" almost tender, which is not a word that comes to mind when thinking of the Reids. She also has a good rock & roll voice as demonstrated on "Can't Stop the Rock" and "Down" and even manages to do a credible job singing classic Reid lyrics like "I've been running from A to B/No more hookers or LSD" (on "What Goes Around"); indeed, she has just enough of the Reid sneer to pull nonsense like that off. Along with her vocal presence, it would seem that having her around kept things less serious as there's a general looseness of sound that one wouldn't associate with the Reid brothers. Little Pop Rock is filled with off-kilter guitar solos, plinky keyboards, and ragged vocals that suggest the album may have been more of a healing experience than an actual attempt to get back in the rock & roll game. So does the fact that it took two years for the record to be released anywhere but Japan. Whatever the reason behind the record, it's a welcome return for the Reids and a fine debut for little sis. Hopefully while her brothers go on to reunite the Mary Chain, she keeps Sister Vanilla going as well.

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