Constantine Maroulis

Pray for the Soul of Betty

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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.

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