The Kids Are All Wrong CDep
released May 2002
This band could be your life. The third in their "Joan of Arc awaiting trial" trilogy, on this EP, The Kids Are All Wrong, My Favorite jettisons the comparisons that have dogged their every step and display the cool, post wave brilliance they excel in. No longer a band that wears its New Wave influences on their sleeves; they have transcended their influences. This EP demonstrates why My Favorite are not only one of the best bands of their generation, but also one of the more brilliant. The four tracks that make up The Kids Are All Wrong illustrate their staggering ability to meld trenchant observations of the bed-sitter's world with melodies and rhythms that compel one to dance. The EP begins with "Burning Hearts." The song highlights Andrea Vaughn's vocal skills and is a haunting elegy to a friendship on the wane. "I was an architect, she was an actress. I drew the Eiffel Tower on her dress, so we could see the world," she sings. Her beguiling vocals cannot help but display the fragile scene of isolation between the narrator and the nameless girl. "The Radiation" continues the theme with alternate singer, Michael Grace Jr. (together, he and Andrea Vaughn share vocal duties on all My Favorite releases) sings about "waiting for the bomb to drop." On this track, as on the others, the band splits metaphors and allows the spaces within the cryptic lyrics to open up. He sings on the chorus, "Let's go out in the radiation," and it makes sense. The last two tracks, "Rescue Us," and "The Lesser Saints" are as compelling as those that preceded them. The final track finds Grace singing through a vocoder, while on "Rescue Us," Vaughn waxes eloquently: "even Goths need rosaries." Throughout, My Favorite offers an unending series of musical and lyrical reminders why they are one of the best bands you have never heard. Similar in scope to such luminaries as The Magnetic Fields, The Smiths, and New Order, My Favorite reflects the unique concerns of a thoroughly middle class existence. Suburban shopping centers, mall based Goths, and strip mall discotheques are all examined in their musical microcosm. The angst and ennui of being an adolescent and alone in the suburban sprawl finds expression here, in the shimmering synthesizers and bass lines of My Favorite. Here too, within the guitars and Michael and Andrea's delivery, the inexpressible lurks. For kids too smart for the Linkin Parks of the world and too young for The Smiths, My Favorite fills a void. by Terry Eagan
The Big Takeover
This is the third and final entry in My Favorite's trilogy of EPs, all of which have used the mythology of Joan of Arc as a tragic symbol for lost new wavers and goths. As one might expect with such a weighty concept, the lyrics revel in arty middle class pretensions and visions of nostalgic youth ("I was an architect, she was an actress, I drew the Eiffel Tower upon her dress, so we could see the world"). Such poetic themes find their perfect companion in a glorious concoction of arching, melancholy synth lines, arpeggiated '80s guitar melodies, and Andrea Vaughn's wistful, cooing vocals. A loving tribute to fallen idols, The Kids Are All Wrong is the mystical meeting place where the Human League, Saint Etienne, and Heavenly have all gathered for a solemn vigil. Lovely indeed.
For nearly a decade, the new romantics in My Favorite have diligently set a blissful tone for suburban youth angst with charming indie pop. And although this Long Island quintet has often been typecast as retro-futurist with its use of synthesizer and '80s-influenced pop, My Favorite's intentions have always gone beyond the realm of robots and space-age love songs. On The Kids are All Wrong (a poke at the Who's The Kids are Alright, which hints at their mod influences), the band completes its three-EP, "Joan of Arc" series. Disaffection in the suburbs is still the symbolic theme, and here the songs once again illustrate the parallel to Joan of Arc's alienated life. The four angelic tunes are more reserved than previous efforts, as the band explores a softer, more mature side, highlighted by Andrea Vaughn's sweet vocals. But it's a solemn end to the series, as Michael Grace, Jr., accompanied by vocoder and piano, sings lines such as "I dreamt about poetry and woke up on the floor" in the somber "Lesser Saints." Oh yes, they're still romantics at heart. by Kenyon Hopkin
Newsday July 5, 2002
Still beguiling after all these years, the kids in My Favorite are all right. But the quintet sounds so across-the-Pond, so Anglo, so new wave, that we can't figure out why it doesn't spell its name "My Favourite." The group invokes Hiroshima ("Burning Hearts"), but never bombs. Ah, if only 85 percent of the bands out there sounded like this: Andrea Vaughn's sweet lilt recalls Lush's Miki Berenyi ("Rescue Us") while My Favorite's use of synthesizers, melodica and vocoder recall such early '80s acts as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (especially on "The Lesser Saints"). They should be everyone's favorite. by Kevin Amorim
My Favorite are one of a thousand new wave revivalists, conjuring up the sounds of the '80s from the perspective of indie pop college graduates. With a firm focus on melody and dance mechanics, the five-piece Long Island group has built themselves quite a following since the 1994 release of their debut EP. The Kids are All Wrong, the final EP in a series that tells a story loosely based on Joan of Arc (the saint, not the rock band), finds My Favorite playing tightly and harmonizing wonderfully, making music look tremendously easy. Compared to more popular (or at least better-known) contemporaries like the Anniversary, My Favorite demonstrates a much more diverse instrumental dynamic, using synthesizers not as back-up but to build a song to its most powerful moments. The first track on Kids, "Burning Hearts", has a very typical pop structure, yet explores rich sound with nothing but keyboards, giving casual listeners the sense that the group is being backed by a full orchestra. Vocalist and keyboardist Andrea Vaughn delivers the chorus effortlessly, sweetly singing, "I was an architect, she was an actress / I drew the Eiffel Tower upon her dress / So we could see the world." "The Radiation" tones down the lush sounds just enough to put the vocals front and center, creating the disc's most Smiths-ian, melody-driven song. "Rescue Us" follows this trend, offering sparse and haunting phrases like "When I was a girl, I murdered my parents / I thought I could sing my way to Paris." Back-up vocals support Vaughn in her deeply emotive (and somewhat disturbing) delivery; the guitars twinkle, the drums pound almost tribally, and the keys build and fade their way to the song's abrupt finish. The disc closes with "The Lesser Saints", easily the most experimental of the four songs. The vocals are heavily overdubbed and robotic-sounding, and are surrounded by mixed-and-chopped instrumental passages. Pianos and keyboards plink at the front, keeping the rest of the instruments safely in the background. It's the eighties all over again. And in a time when monstrous hordes of new wave bands are springing up from the ground like potatoes wearing sunglasses, it's important to be able to recognize what made new wave so important to begin with, and why it's worth drawing upon. The best bands aren't going to be the ones who copy the Eighties exactly or make their pop songs bouncier; the best will be those who integrate the two, those who possess the ability to "modernize" new wave, so to speak. The only problem with The Kids Are All Wrong is that it's too short. The EP barely scratches the surface of My Favorite's tremendous potential -- they deserve to be as well known as their counterparts on other, larger labels. On the other hand, it's always better to have four well-written, well-played songs than a whole LP worth of filler -- but I'm convinced that any My Favorite album will be refreshingly devoid of filler. by Kevin White
A Cult Of One CDep
released September 2001
The Big Takeover
In this second installment of a three-part series of Joan of Arc-themed EPs, these Long Island mods impress (again) with their lyrical acuity, where grim verses lead to cathartic choruses, and their textured sense of melody -- simultaneously doom-laden and sing-it-in-the-shower poppy. As you might've guessed, My Favorite are way out there on their own. Throw your lot in with this anti-irony brigade and go catch one of their stomping live shows at Brownie's. by Terry Banks
Audiogalaxy "Today's Feature" 8.10.2001
Is it New Wave or Is It the Truth?
One of my favorite things about the direction indie music is taking lately is the large crop of New Wave/pop bands sprouting up everywhere. Is it New Wave? Is it pop? Is it synth pop? They like to keep you guessing. One minute you're blissing out to say, a happy piano riff, and then the next you're confronted with a dark, bassy synth or dark lyrics. The balance between happy and sad, between serious and kitsch is perfect for any mood. New York's My Favorite is like that. Since 1994, they've been doing the New Wave pop thing, but their first full-length, Love at Absolute Zero, wasn't recorded until 1999. Now, their latest installment is A Cult of One, and they have an exclusive track and remix on a new Double Agent compilation. A Cult of One is the second in what promises to be a trilogy of EPs devoted to the ideal of Joan of Arc - "the martyrdom of freaks, hipsters, and saints." Their press release states that at a recent My Faves show, they saw the ghost of Joan of Arc carrying a blindfolded Hello Kitty. Scary and cute. If that doesn't just sum it up, I don't know what does.The songs, as far as I can tell, have little to do with Joan of Arc, and more to do with topics like the isolation of suburban life. "The Suburbs are Killing Us" is a great, upbeat New Wave rocker that owes as much to say, the Januaries as the Smiths or New Order. Listening to just this track, you could have fooled me about the New York roots of this band - from the jangly guitars to the fake accents, this is total Britpop. The two singers, Andrea Vaughn and Michael Grace Jr., complement each other extremely well. Vaughn, who does lead vocal on three of four tracks, has that perky cutesy pop voice perfected by women like Elizabeth Elmore of Sarge or Jennifer Carr of Barcelona. In other cases, that voice could grate on the nerves, but it fits well here. Grace has a more Morrissey-esque dramatic tenor that he sadly only lets rip on one track. Together, their harmonies sound almost like synthesizer keys forming a chord.It may have taken them five years to release an album, but now that they have, My Favorite are on top of their game. by Lacey Tauber
On the second installment in the Joan Of Arc trilogy, My Favorite flex their New Order/Pet Shop Boys muscles for slightly more than fifteen minutes of flashbacks. It's true that A Cult Of One is short on length, but that's why they put all those "repeat" options on your CD player. Consider it quality over quantity. "Le Monster" stands out as classic '80s British New Wave material, and though it's a familiar sound, it's done so well here that you can't help but want more. It's understandable why leg warmers and Flock of Seagulls hairdos faded away with the '80s, but the near disappearance of New Wave is another thing entirely. Thankfully, My Favorite are more than willing to fill the void. by AL
Blue Dog Press September 7, 2001
My Favorite tread a very fine line with A Cult of One due to the striking similarities to Republic-era New Order electa-pop, particularly in the Bernard Sumner/Gillian Gilbert-esque male/female vocal arrangements. Though the delivery has an outwardly sweet feel, the songs are covertly dark and sad, and are lyrically poignant without the dance-ability of most 21st century electronica, thus making them more suitable for a dimly-lit hipster's pad than a hoping dance club.
Michael Grace Jr. paints vivid pictures on "The Black Cassette" and "Le Monster" with his penetrating lyrics, wrought with solemn reflection without the common overly sappy, sentimental feel.
"The suburbs are killing us / asleep when we should be dancing," an all too true statement that accurately portrays the funk that the suburbs frequently impose upon one's life. The suburban theme is duly appropriate for My Favorite, given the fact that they hail from Long Island, a nearly inescapable prison of a suburb (although the numbers at UB would lead you to believe otherwise).
Though their music draws heavily from post-punk, synth-pop, and '80s culture, there is a mysterious, fresh quality about their songs that saves A Cult of One from derivative purgatory. by Al Delmerico
Joan of Arc Awaiting Trial CDep
released September 2000
Ink 19 October 2000
Each single track on this EP is better than most bands' entire album. The first in a trio of EPs to be issued this year, My Favorite has certainly piqued my expectations. Building upon the strength of last year's release, Love at Absolute Zero, My Favorite continue to explore the domain of lost youths and teenager/adolescent angst without resorting to the overbearing, musical chest-beating so characteristic of the nineties. Although often mistaken as a retro or novelty band, My Favorite makes some of the finest pop music around. Rooted in what was once termed "new wave," this band reflects an amalgamation, of sounds and styles while all the while retaining an awareness of the awkwardness of youth. If you remember John Hughes' films fondly and consider New Order and the Smiths two of the finest bands ever, this album is for you. by Terry Eagan
The first in a series of three limited Eps, from one of indie-pop's most acclaimed and misunderstood bands. Equal parts feverish-pop-devotion and art-school-experimentation, eighties new wave and nineties indie-pop, with mighty guitar jangles, blipping synths and sultry dub rhythms, art-pop that never heard of grunge. The logical progression from 80s new wave and 90s indie-pop, melodic masterpieces ride a razor's edge of the slickest pop and waycool British post-punk, sexy male vocals and sexier female vocals. Sweet and tender anthems fall between KIM WILDE's "Kids In America" and DURAN DURAN's "Girls On Film", between The SUNDAY's "Here's Where the Story Ends" and MARTHA & The MUFFINS "Echo Beach" and NEW ORDER's classic "Love Vigilantes"! VERY GOOD!!
Gear Magazine March 2001
This pristine, heartbreaking panorama of teenage wastelands past and future is no mope-fest: tight New Wavey instrumentation and clever lyrics give it a near-lethal bite and snap. by Michael Martin
The Big Takeover #47 October 20, 2000
This N.Y. area quintet is making up for lost time. Their excellent LP debut, Love At Absolute Zero, released earlier this year, may have followed the band's debut 7" by more than five years, but this impressive four-song EP follows the album by just a few months. Let's hear it for quick turnaround; because the group, led by Michael Grace, is making some of the most lyrical and poetic music around. Naysayers may knock their admirably unfashionable 80's-era production ethos (sort of a New Order/Depeche Mode/Modern English melange), but these kids have got more heart and style than a thousand blank-faced indie bands. Keep the faith, My Favorite. by Terry Banks
That My Favorite originated in Long Island, a place where Cinderella and Warrant sell out concerts with alarming regularity, is something of a miracle. Their 1999 debut was a wonderwork, a sparkling slice of pseudo-Britpop that evidenced a serious jones for the Smiths. "Joan of Arc..." is simply an extension: four more gloriously mopey peans to loneliness and celibacy. Michael Grace's delicate baritone soars through shimmering galaxies of guitar and keys, the sound of New Order reincarnate. The melodies are meringue-light just as sweet, the euphoric chorus of "Badge" rising steadily, confidently over skittering arpeggios. My Favorite replicates the sound of a bygone era sounding neither pretentious nor pretending. They make nostalgia seem glorious. by J. Edward
More often than not, the EP format is used to show how much a band has progressed since their previous album. This is certainly the case with My Favorite's latest release (the first in a planned series of three EPs about Joan of Arc), following on the heels of the Long Island band's long-awaited debut Love at Absolute Zero. While there are no huge surprises here, it is simply amazing that frontman Michael Grace Jr. has led his bandmates to the smooth and unified sound displayed on Joan of Arc. Absolute Zero was brilliant, to be sure, but these four new songs have a coherent ease and clean-cut maturity that sheds some light on the band's past growing pains. Grace's lyrics are still in tip-top shape, dealing out catchy intellectual refrains like, "loneliness is pornography to them / but to us it is an art," all the while romanticsing the isolation and loyalties of teenage years. And yes, they still conjure the golden age of eighties synth-damaged guitarpop, but with each release, it becomes more difficult to believe that there was any band of this type better than My Favorite.