Bricks Are Heavy

L7

Slash Records, 1992

http://l7theband.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/19/1998

Back in 1992, when I was sent Bricks Are Heavy from L7, a female punk quartet, I didn't get it. In a sense, I still don't.

Donita Sparks and crew showed from time to time they could write decent songs and execute them in the studio well. But Bricks Are Heavy is an album you either get or don't... and I'm one of those in the latter category.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The quartet - guitarist/vocalist Sparks, bassist/vocalist Jennifer Finch, guitarist/vocalist Suzi Gardner and drummer/backing vocalist Demetra Plakas - enlisted the help of wunderkind producer of the moment Butch Vig for this one. Mistake number one, in my opinion; Vig's style just isn't the correct sound for L7, but you at least have to give him credit for trying.

When the songwriting and performances are on, Bricks Are Heavy works on many levels. The single from this album, "Pretend We're Dead," is an enjoyable number that combines a solid beat with good riffs and a catchy chorus that you'll find yourself humming at inopportune times. Likewise, "One More Thing" captures almost a passive L7, and creates one of the more enjoyable songs on the album.

Of course, the band has lots of time to show off the pissed-off side of punk. "Shitlist" is a prime, and enjoyable, example of this. "Wargasm," the lead-off track, is a little too political, but gets its message across with plenty of intensity.

The remainder of Bricks Are Heavy is either just average or just plain forgettable. Songs like "Scrap," a ditty about a paint-sniffer, is pretty much a waste of time (and the ending sound montage of the song's subject in the act of sniffing is a bit unsettling), while "Everglade" and "Slide" aren't bad songs, but they just don't motivate me one way or the other.

And in the end, this is the biggest problem with Bricks Are Heavy. I always thought that punk rock was supposed to challenge you to think about the status quo. The Sex Pistols did; the Dead Kennedys did; Black Flag... nah, they were just fun to listen to. Bricks Are Heavy neither is always fun to listen to nor challenging to the listener. In the end, it's just a rock album, and a moderate one at that.

Rating: C-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Slash Records, and is used for informational purposes only.