The Virgin-Whore Complex

Stay Away from My Mother

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AllMusic Review by

Virgin-Whore Complex's first album is one of those records about which there's little middle ground. The potential dealbreakers are many: lead singer Spats Ransom's mannered vocals, bassist and secondary singer Debbie Fox's less-than-certain pitch, the obsessively arch lyrics, the overall sense of slightly smug overeducated clever-cleverness that permeates the whole enterprise. And yet, Stay Away From My Mother mostly turns out to be a charming collection of catchy indie pop songs that occasionally flirt with pretentiousness but rarely tip over into insufferable. The album gets off to a bracing start with the brilliant "Discovered," a deceptively complex kiss-off-in-advance from a would-be star to the person who just dumped him, and ends on a similarly high note with "The Elephant," an almost psychedelic piano-based ballad with resigned but opaque lyrics that sounds oddly like one of John Lennon's more lysergic excursions. The 13 songs in between are more up and down in quality, with the ghostly "Anyone" and the Kinks-like "Revolver" the former and Fox's limp "Golden Nights" and Ransom's eye-rolling "Wolves Gather Silently By" the latter. Overall, the simple but effective production treats the songs well, and despite the occasional bout of preciousness, Stay Away From My Mother is a most appealing record.

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