There is nothing better than using the excuse of an 11th hour review writing session to convince your parents that you have to listen to an album and that they will have to experience it with you. Vacationing on Florida’s Gulf coast, my time to write reviews has been limited,1 so I have been reluctant to share my listening patterns with family. When I plugged my iPod into the vehicle stereo, I expected silent toleration. Instead, we had a great 30 minutes of Mystery Science Theater 3000-style commentary.
What was most interesting to me was that four of us – of varying age and musical sensibilities – all agreed on our assessment of the self-titled album by The Babies. I had the advantage of prior knowledge of the band; I knew they were a side project of Brooklyn’s Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls) and Kevin Morby (Woods). That advantage led nowhere as we sat and tapped our feet to the music and discussed it.
The Babies created 30 minutes of a mix of rockabilly, punk, and lo-fi; during that half hour, we all detected a level of non-commitment by the two vocalists. They used the main hipster vehicle: expending sufficient effort to make it look like they spent none in the making of this record. The vocals seem half-hearted and the music feels like it was recorded in an airplane cabin – with the microphone at one end and the band at the other. Morby and Ramone sounded like they were having a competition of who could sound the most disinterested.
I will not write the duo off though. By track 8, “Sick Kid,” the two find their stride and when the album closes out on “Caroline,” the two are not competing but collaborating. I hope the two continue to make records, because I feel like they are on to something, it just took some time to get there.
Morby and Ramone have an attitude of “we are what we are, take us or leave us,” but that seems more a Brooklyn attitude and not unique to them. There is obvious promise in the debut by The Babies and music fans should reciprocate the effort spent by the duo fostering their indifferent persona because they are too cool to ask you to do it themselves.
1. A horrible problem to have, I know. I will be forwarding my plight on to @humblebrag on Twitter.