Maura Johnston expresses the inexpressible truth about ’69 Love Songs.’
Oh, it’s somewhat uneven! But the high points are fantastic. (“Come Back From San Francisco,” “Papa Was A Rodeo,” “I Don’t Want To Get Over You,” “The Book Of Love,” “Long-Forgotten Fairytale.” And “Washington, D.C.,” which makes me totally jealous of the people living in the nation’s capital since it is the best song about a city ever.
The overall point is inarguable. You can’t write a 69-song aria of consistent excellence. The ear won’t perceive it as consistently excellent, in any case. But “Washington, D.C.” is one of the low points of ’69 Love Songs.’ I cringed the first couple times I heard that horrible, jarring snare triplet coupling DOUBLEYOU! AYY-ESS-AITCH! EYE-ENN-GEE! and retreated into a fetal position for the wretched TEE-OHH-ENN, BABY! that caps it off. Within weeks of moving here, I was invited to drink beer and watch a sporting event with a co-worker who insisted on yelling that shit out, and despite not knowing anyone in this place I wanted to run out of the building.
Is “Washington DC” really better than “Fairytale Of New York”? Or “London’s Burning”? Or “Where I’m From”? Or “Los Angeles”? Or “Straight Outta Compton”? Or “South Bronx”? Or even Final Exit’s long-forgotten “Umea [Sweden] Hardcore The Way It Was”?
“When My Boy Walks Down The Street,” however, is as perfect as pop music gets when not written by Brian Wilson or John Lennon.