It's no surprise that Pray for the Soul of Betty languished in obscurity until their lead singer, Constantine Maroulis, became a finalist on the 2005 season of American Idol: they are the quintessential local band. They have a terrible, terrible name, a penchant for bad, photocopied, black-and-white artwork, and crank out plodding, generic hard rock. Koch's rush-released eponymous debut album -- which very well may just be a demo tape packaged as an actual record, but it doesn't mean this is Come on Pilgrim by any means -- proves all this in a rather excruciatingly dull fashion. Anybody expecting either a glimpse of a rock star in the making or an American Idol novelty record will be sorely disappointed, since Pray for the Soul of Betty is merely a boring collection of churning, affected grunge made ten years too late by a group of poseurs. Like any local band desperate to make an impression, they front-load the album with their most memorable songs -- that is, the fastest ones and the ones with hooks -- then change the pace for a slow-building ballad halfway through, throw in a cut with varied tempo to showcase their musicality; they show their attitude by having not one but two song titles with profanities. They let their songs drift on far too long and the whole turgid mess is given a muddy, muddled production that is a chore to hear from beginning to end, even if the record is short at 41 minutes. It's not just that Pray for the Soul of Betty is a bad band, it's that Pray for the Soul of Betty is a bad record of a bad band, not even containing an ounce of the charisma Constantine oozed on American Idol. No wonder he bailed on the band the second he had a chance: anybody who hears this record could tell that the band was already at a dead end. With any luck, Constantine will stay far away from his old bandmates and pursue other musical directions. Anything would be better than another record of this.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine