Make Me - It Only Hurts The First Time

Thomas 18/01/2008

Rating: 2.5/5

Clumsy, naïve, knowing, endearing, annoying, clever, dumb, dry and sweet…. Just some of the many things that San Francisco quartet Make Me manage to be over the nine tracks of their debut album. Perhaps best described simply as indie pop with keyboards, they're happy to admit their love of the Pixies and Breeders, and borrow rather too much from the former on catchiest track 'Tattoo'd - On Eyeliner', which almost busts into 'Tony's Theme' straight from the gun.

Vocals are shared by founder members Zola (bass) and Claire (keys), and without being too unkind, neither are going to be challenging the five-octave brigade of Mariah & co anytime soon. Their off-balance harmonies and the band's DIY aesthetic could lead to Pavement comparisons, but there's not enough pure melody to endorse this. With overly conventional song structures and simple keyboard lines, the overall impression is of a less rigid, but frequently out-of-tune Le Tigre, enhanced on 'One More Hour', where the treated vocals briefly sound near identical to Kathleen Hanna's on the first LT album.

Lyrics are sometimes wry but rarely witty, and bluntly, the music does them few favours. Overlong closing track 'Odyssey in Wichita' is a study in stretching one idea out for an eternity without the deftness of touch that would make such an idea bearable. Potentially interesting lines about a desert road trip involving “gender issues” and “trannies” are simply lost in the mist of clumsily strummed minor chords and one-finger keyboards.

The record isn't without its charms, the odd blast of accordion or fairground music here, a self-deprecating lyric there, but Make Me sound like they're struggling to get any scope, any drama into the equation throughout, whilst when they try and broaden their sonic palette, as on 'Odyssey…', it only reveals their limitations. It's hard to dislike a band fronted by two intelligent girls whose album has a lipstick on the cover, but with a killer tune total of one, it's even harder to see their songs about the San Fran indie scene being taken to heart by a wider audience. A missed opportunity then, and a real shame.