West Indian Girl

West Indian Girl

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West Indian Girl are a Los Angeles-based duo named after an infamous strain of LSD. It's important to clarify that right at the top, as Robert James and Francis Ten's relationship with mind-altering paraphernalia is the guiding principal of their self-titled Astralwerks debut. "Alone on a hill in the summer time/You could dial your mind/And listen to thought made young and pure," James creaks on the opening "Trip." "Dial your mind"? What year is it, dude? The problem with revivalist drug rock like this is its complete lack of imagination. From "Dream"'s cattails of electronic whispers, lilting acoustic guitars, and soaring, detached Pink Floyd harmonies to "Still Lost"'s textbook appropriation of Some Friendly-era Charlatans, all West Indian Girl prove is that they were too high to think of anything very original. "What Are You Afraid Of" looks to vintage Verve for inspiration, while "Visions" is a distracted throwaway of watery Logan's Run sound effects and sleepy harmony gobbledygook. James' lyrics continue to sound stilted and dippy throughout, like they were written by out of touch Hollywood screenwriters. ("Dance with me...time follows/I'm so high I can't sleep"). In their stronger moments, West Indian Girl find a few memorable unions of synthesizer, guitar trill, and bassline. The single "Hollywood" connects Kraftwerk's autobahn hum to California freeway sunlight, and "Northern Sky" is a satisfactory Britpop/Grandaddy/Kate Bush mind meld heightened by some nice accompaniment from an uncredited female vocalist. (The album's liners are irritatingly scanty, with no information about who played or sang what.) West Indian Girl might have some appeal for people who heard Spiritualized were "druggy" but got thrown by the gospel choirs. They also might court those who consider fellow L.A. Brit rock interpreters the Shore to be "too downtown." But the duo's laconic, occasionally electronic survey of doin' drugs in southern California never finds its own jet stream. It hovers over the dissipating fumes of drug rock's storied yet increasingly tired past.

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