...But The Little Girls Understand
Capitol Records, 1979
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/13/1998
Hard to believe it's been well over a year since The Knack graced the pages of "The Daily Vault" - I really have to get the Pierce Archives computerized (as well as organized) one of these days.
Following the surprise success of their debut album Get The Knack, Doug Fieger and crew quickly regrouped to record their second album, ...but the little girls understand. But somehow, when they dug out the recipe for success they used on their first album, something went terribly wrong. Maybe it was their trying to create copycat hits from "My Sharona," maybe it was they didn't spend enough time fine-tuning the songwriting process. Whatever the case, this album is a weak followup.
After creating such a furor with "My Sharona," The Knack return to the dirty old man guise with "Baby Talks Dirty". Unfortunately, not only is this not as good of a song, it's also a poor copy, right down to the staccato guitar line in the body of the song. Plus, the innuendo-laden swagger the band had put forth just one album ago on songs like "Good Girls Don't" seems real stale.
Too bad the band didn't drop the innuendo after one song; it's still pretty strong on "Mr. Handleman," and has a lesser presence on "I Want Ya". But by this time, they've slipped from the Beatles with a hard-on to a poor cover band in their sound. No doubt about it, the songwriting is definitely not as strong this time around.
Oh, they try to put on a more "sensitive man" face on songs like "Can't Put A Price On Love," and this song does succeed a little more than some of the others, but it's too little, too late. Let's face it, on Get The Knack, Fieger and company first established themselves as a rock band before they delved into pervert-land.
The bulk of ...but the little girls understand is made up of the dreaded filler - the songs aren't bad, but they aren't good, either. The whole second side seems like the band is sprinting towards the finish line, churning out six songs in just over 15 minutes. Cuts like "(Havin' a) Rave Up," "End Of The Game" and "How Can Love Hurt So Much" just seem to pass through the head without leaving any solid impression - that's not a good thing.
What could have made this album a little better? First, more time - you can hear the rush job that this album became, a release to capitalize on their recently-found fame. Had they spent a little more time writing solid songs, even if they still were at crotch-level, I think this album would have been more fondly remembered. Second, they had to stop reading their own press releases and tone down the songs a tad. I'm no prude by any means, but people seem to classify The Knack with guys who wear raincoats and flash city buses. They were better musicians than their lyrics hinted at.
...but the little girls understand has a certain amount of kitsch value, I guess, but not much more to offer. If you absolutely must own this to make your collection complete, then pick it up. Otherwise, your life won't be incomplete if you never hear Fieger make orgasmic noises in lieu of singing.