JAMES H. COLLINS
The Virgins, "Strike Gently" (Cult Records/Frenchkiss Label Group)
The best thing about the New York quartet The Virgins is Donald Cummings' adept angular guitar playing. In spots it's pleasantly reminiscent of Richard Hell's inventive work in television, or even the David Byrne/Jerry Harrison combination in Talking Heads -- and it's clear there's a post-punk New York aesthetic that The Virgins are mining. It is, after all, their hometown.
"Strike Gently" is their second full-length effort, and it is considerably more down-tempo than their 2008 debut. Much of the sexy dance beats from the first record have been shelved in favor of slower attempts at contemplative songs like "The Beggar" or "Amelia."
Cummings sings in an Iggy-esque basso that has a little too much reverb, or doubling effect, in places, and isn't nearly as captivating. The verses with the sharp and often ornamental guitar licks unfortunately devolve into the most banal of choruses -- like a television tune with a Rick Springfield refrain. There are plenty of New York stories for a creative guitarist and vocalist to discover and transform into something unique and listenable. Sadly, "Strike Gently" fails to deliver.
Follow James H. Collins on Twitter at twitter.com/jimcollinsap
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