Rock bands led by actors have long been considered a joke by most pop culture fanatics, movie geeks, and record collectors, and usually for good reason: many are quite terrible. But that knee-jerk dismissal of all celebrity rock bands isn't really fair, since it assumes that all these acts are merely vanity acts, and never manages to look beyond the celebrity to actually hear the music. This is a problem that will plague Juliette Lewis and her band, the Licks, just as it plagued Russell Crowe, Kevin Bacon, Jeff Bridges, Keanu Reeves, and any number of actors who have fronted rock bands or released their own albums. If Juliette & the Licks' first album, You're Speaking My Language, is judged on its own merits, it's not a bad record. It's a little bit too derivative, drawing heavily from PJ Harvey, Iggy Pop, and '90s alterna-rock, with traces of '80s new wave, but the band is propulsive and Lewis has some genuine power as vocalist, giving the group direction and a charismatic focal point. Sometimes, her lyrics are a little silly -- whether it's the attacks on Halliburton on "American Boy, Vol. 2" or her contention that "the world's gone crazy/but I've got my friends" on "Money in My Pocket" -- but her spirited performances tend to overshadow these indulgences. While there aren't too many really memorable tunes here -- only the giddy, poppy "Seventh Sign" really demands attention -- the sound is sleek and stylish, and the band rocks harder than you might think, making You're Speaking My Language a surprisingly appealing, promising debut.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine