A Cult of One by My Favorite (Review)

The genius here is that, rather than making these songs into goth ballads or melodramatic affairs, they keep them short, sweet, and best of all, catchy.
A Cult of One, My Favorite

I guess, technically, I am a child of the 80s. I grew up in the 80s and, on some level, I retain a certain nostalgia for those days, days when all you needed to save the world was a couple of G.I. Joe figures and a Transformer or two. And I get a thrill everytime I venture over to sites like Yesterdayland, where any lover of Reaganomics can get their fill of pop culture (i.e. sweater dresses and the like). But on a musical level, I’m playing a huge game of catchup, because I never started to seriously listen to music until around 1993 or so.

Now, I’m guessing that My Favorite were Latchkey Kids too, but rather than expressing their nostalgia with websites and a fetish for all die-cast toys with kung fu action grips, their music is their love. And what a love it is.

Within the first minute, it’s easy to see that these guys listen to an inordinate amount of The Smiths, The Cure, and New Order. The guitars chime in the best Johnny Marr tradition, while the synths sound like everything you loved about “The Head On The Door.” What’s amazing about My Favorite’s music is that, given the obvious influences, it never sound derivative or even, God forbid, retro. Rather, they’re obviously inspired by the likes of Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner. It’s a fine distinction, but even with only 4 songs, it’s clear that My Favorite have made it.

Lyrically, this EP also displays a great deal of cleverness, with ennui and angst made bearable by the perfect amount of wit and lyrical insight. “Le Monster” kicks things off on a cheery note with this story of a bedridden accident victim, with such insights as “The streets were crawling with vampires/Because after your shelf life expires/You’re not a kid, you’re a monster.” When Andrea Vaughn icily sings “ You’re not fucked up, you’re beautiful’ is what I dreamed he said/While I played with myself in the hospital bed,” she does so with such detached longing (fitting for a drugged up patient) that it makes the character all the more pitiable.

Meanwhile, “The Black Cassette” is the song that could have been in every classic John Hughes film, if it hadn’t been written 20 years too late. Lyrics like “We spent the summer in his room/We spent the summer in his gloom/Feverish and celibate/Listening to the black cassette” captures the highs and lows of a troubled teenage romance, with its confusion, heartache, and sexual frustration.

The genius here is that, rather than making these songs into goth ballads or melodramatic affairs, they keep them short, sweet, and best of all, catchy. Like The Smiths, My Favorite are quite adept at taking the most morose subject matter and transforming it into a pop gem with just the right melodic hook. It’s a bittersweet juxtaposition, but one that makes the lyrics even more touching and emotional, and makes the music that much more engaging.

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