Review of The Virgins self-titled album released through Atlantic Records.
With New York's music scene currently resembling something out of Oxford or Reading circa 1989, its something of a surprise to hear a band like The Virgins, who sound like they've leapt straight of a Strokes prep school like it was the summer of 2001, yet oddly enough, alongside their aforementioned hair slide wearing, fuzz pedal preferring contemporaries seem bizarrely dated. Indeed, for a band that formed over four years ago, it seems like they've had an almost colossal wait in finally getting this, their eponymous debut album, primed and ready for public consumption.
What is apparent however, is that despite the ever shifting musical trends of the day, The Virgins haven't once buckled under industry pressure to change from what made them start out as a band in the first place. And why should they? After all, despite the obvious reference points of an NYC scene that some would say had its day even before The Virgins conception, there's no doubting their ability to write a tune or two if this collection is anything to go by, which more than compensates for the record's long-awaited arrival. Indeed, having spent most of the interim time out on the road, its clear for all to see that the majority of these songs have been honed up to the desired standard before being passed onto an ever-growing audience like souvenirs from a tourist boutique.
That's not to say that everything about 'The Virgins' is perfect, of course; it isn't particularly the languorous drug references that punctuate the record, from the opening 'She's Expensive' and its plea for a 'cocaine brunch' through to 'Hey Hey Girl' and its boast about 'slipping in the k-hole', or the elongated section of closing track 'Love Is Colder Than Death' that features a frankly nauseous and unnecessary conversation between two associates (groupies?) talking about doing more cocaine. So we get it guys, rock and roll = sex and drugs, so much for being Virgins.
Nevertheless, ignore the flimsy bravado and this isn't a bad record either by any stretch of the imagination. Donald Cumming's vocal veers between a young Elvis Costello and Ric Ocasek on the aforementioned 'She's Expensive' while some of the guitar work, particularly on 'Teen Lovers' and 'Private Affair' is as reminiscent of Postcard era Orange Juice as it is post-millennium hip slingers like The Strokes and Five O'Clock Heroes, while the band's obvious penchant for dance music conjured up in Studio 54 back in the early part of the 1980s shines through decadently.
Although not entirely original in concept, there is enough about The Virgins execution here to stand them in good stead and as long as they resist falling into some of the traps they gleefully embrace in song here, their future credibility should remain intact long enough for the follow-up.
Deceptively pleasant, in an immature dishevelled kind of way.
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