Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Five long years after Elastica was an instant hit, Elastica's The Menace (Atlantic) busts out of the box as if it's 1996. Sure, Justine Frischmann and company seem to say--what could be more natural in the year 2000 than launching a noisy mess of a guitar-driven pop tune by hooking together a bunch of synthesizer barks, a faux hurdy-gurdy, and some gunshots? Having wrestled down demons that include a widely publicized breakup with Damon Albarn of Blur, Frischmann stopped worrying about her place in the rock firmament and settled for proving she was still alive. And miraculously, she sounds livelier than ever--not as fashionable as in the heady days when guitars were all the rage, but locked into the punky musical method she loves. Even when she tries some electronica, she stays within herself. Except maybe for Lou Reed's Ecstasy, it's the most confident rock record of the year, and the best.

Pink is a 20-year-old go-getter from Philadelphia who's not only a white artist on the reigning r&b label LaFace, but an aspiring teenpop idol who writes her own material (which doesn't mean she's dumb enough to reject offerings from LaFace's Babyface). She's told interviewers that for a year once she believed Madonna was her birth mother, and on Can't Take Me Home she shows why. Lovey-dovey's not her way. Inspiration for title tune: a dark-skinned boyfriend who wouldn't let her meet his mama.

Like Latin music but find it a little cheesy? Try Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos, whose ¡Muy Divertido! (Very Entertaining!) (Atlantic) is their second straight album to bend classic Cuban tunes and rhythms to the irreverent sonorities of small-group jazz. When Ribot adds a self-penned number called "Las Lomas De New Jersey," it fits right in.

Playboy, May 2000

Apr. 2000 June 2000