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The Januaries

The Januaries
(Food Chain)

The Januaries are a six piece band out of California playing fairly radio-friendly pop music that sometimes sounds like Garbage, and other times even more playful. There are tracks that swagger with a 60's soundtrack in their lush sounds, and others that take just a slightly harder edge and recall work by Garbage. They're alternately lush and simple and like the different styles that they work, their self-titled album as a whole is fairly inconsistent.

The one thing that will probably make the album either a winner or not in most listeners mind is how well they can tolerate lead singer Debbie Diamond. It's not that she has a bad voice or anything, but the group suffers a bit from the same thing that seems to doom Madonna with every album; while the production and music on the disc is quite good and very solidly put together, it's her voice that is in the forefront on every track and in the end the success of each pretty much rests on her vocal chords.

Again, though, it's not that she doesn't have a good voice, it's just something that's a bit too much on some tracks. While she's subtle (although not so much lyrically) with sexy playfullness on the dreamy "Chocolate and Strawberries," she's also very good on more assertive tracks like the more beat-driving "Love Met The Devil." Tracks like the sleazy (and very overbearing) "Black Transmission" are simply a bit too much, though, with probably the most obvious musical arrangement on the disc and the repeated phrasing of "hot!" by Diamond.

Lyrically, things are pretty darn straightforward on the disc and would probably appeal the best on a warm sunny day with the top down and you can sing along. "Summer Of Love" includes the line "I put the ass back in class/and the 'f' back in fun," and while that's a pretty easy target example, none of the tracks really go much deeper than that lyrically. It's all about having a bit of fun and not thinking about things too much, but sometimes things get so downright obvious that it's just plain silly (calling Madonna again). As mentioned before, besides a couple tracks, the album has a pretty lush sound due to the large backing of instruments and nearly every track is very well put together and listenable. Of course, everyone needs a bit of mindless mellow listening now and again, so this might just be the way to go.

Rating: 6.25