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The Residents - Commercial Album CD (album) cover


The Residents



3.64 | 76 ratings

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2 stars Like a lot of the Residents' albums up to that point, Commercial Album posits itself as a unique experiment in form - with music itself as the subject for examination and comment. Just as "Third Reich and Roll" was a collage of deconstructed pop covers, this album takes a similar potshot at the institution of pop music. 40 songs, each exactly a minute long, illustrating somewhat cynically that they have boiled pop music down to its essence by removing the repetition. I'll give them one thing, it gives a reviewer an easy topic for an opening paragraph. How novel, right?

Trouble is, the songs mostly stink. If these songs resembled pop music in any form, their effect might be stronger. But essentially, each song consists of: a bland keyboard-based melody repeated a couple of times, one verse of lyrics, and maybe a brief outro. After a strong start ("Easter Woman"), things get awfully tedious by around track 10. There are isolated highlights -- Fred Frith with a cool guitar break in "Moisture", "Amber" has a good melody all around, "Simple Song" is knowingly moronic -- but overall this is a classic case of form over substance.

I love the Residents, particularly their first 10 years (1974-1984), but this is my least favorite album from that bunch. It seems to get a lot of praise -- it came out at a time when the Residents were possibly at the peak of their "hip" popularity -- but I maintain that 40 mediocre 1 minute songs do not equal 20 decent 2 minute songs.

HolyMoly | 2/5 |


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