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A Total Let Down

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Album Review

Building on the considerable strengths of the duo's initial singles and album, on Letdown, Babyland continue the same perfect bland of aggro-electronics, personal/political punk lyrical delivery, and whatever else works. The few changes there are turn up as understated rather than obvious, especially a continued embrace of careful additional touches to flesh out the songs. (Thus, the understated synth orchestration on the break of "Plain Talk" or the sudden inclusion of a kiddie music-box melody in the middle of "Suitable for Framing.") The band's signature song, "Worst Case Scenario," appears here after initially surfacing on a single. A crisp, focused percussion blast with various strange noises as accompaniment sets the base for Dan's at once abstract and focused dissection of someone who feels "the lowest of the low" — it's fantastic stuff, and has inspired cover versions and at least one band name. Other strong standouts include the rushed "The Next Day in the Course of Time," featuring a great rant about getting off your butt and doing something with your life instead of just procrastinating, and "Ramona Moraga," an indescribably vicious portrait of cloistered and smug white suburbia based on Dan's own youth in the privileged town of that name. The latter also has a great gang-shout chorus of "This is — not my community!" — an understandable sentiment when you consider the lyrics. Perhaps the most surprising cut is also one of the best — a cover of "Pink Frost," the taut, hushed post-punk reflection on a dying friend by New Zealand's Chills. The fragile lyric gets a rougher but no less intense reading from Dan, while the music follows the original melody on keyboard, adding in patented Babyland metal pounding and low electronic rumbles. It's a great way for Dan and Smith to show their sometimes hidden '80s alternative roots, and is an imaginative reworking in its own right.

Customer Reviews

Lucky you

If you stumbled upon this strange jewel, lucky you. Babyland is harsh, juvenile, useless noise. "Worst Case Scenario" supplies a groove necessary for a listenable album and "Dismissal" adds the Black Flag angst so needed in otherwise industrial apathy. Combined with the self mockery in "Romona Moraga", A Total Let Down is actually to the contrary. If you got this far, you have no excuse but to download.

Anything but a Total Let Down.

This is an excellent album that should be owned by any fan of the band. It's a little harder to find too, so digital is a great way to have it. If nothing else you NEED the song Worst Case Scenario, as it is without a doubt, one of their most popular for a reason. However, Ramona Moraga is killer as well, and Dismissal is pretty fantastic. A fine album by these talented gents.

my first and arguably favorite

this was the first babyland album i ever owned. now i'm a fan for life! looking back, i've got to say that this album see's the band at their most raw and aggressive. classic songs that they play live are "worst case scenario" "dismissal" "kill bugs" and (rarely, but still) "cop out." a total let-down is a classic from beginning to end- if you are just getting into this amazing band, don't miss out on this fantastic album!!!!

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