Release DetailsLABEL Demolition Records
RELEASED ON 1/30/2007
Live & Learn
posted on 6/2007 By:
In the late ‘80s, female foursome Vixen captured the attention (and pants, if not the ears), of teenage boys across America with video hits “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “Cryin’”, both from their 1988 self-titled debut. Hair metal was in full-swing, and the band’s teased hair and teasing outfits got maximum mileage from the television-based marketing of vapid pop-metal. Twenty years have passed, hair metal is dead and buried (except on VH1), and yet back Vixen come with their fourth album, and first since 1998’s Tangerine. Although it may look like it’s their goal to just shoot for one album per decade, it seems more likely the band has fully broken up and reunited sporadically, as the Live & Learn line up has just one original member, guitarist and creative force Jan Kuehnemund, who left after the second album and has now reformed the group without any of the musicians on the third album. Sounds like a close-knit group.
The good news is that the band isn’t still pedaling sugar-coated hair metal. The bad news is that regardless, Live & Learn simply isn’t very entertaining. It’s a much more mature approach, but at the end of the day sounds like garden variety bar rock from a successful local band. It’s a nice, honest effort—the kind I take no joy in criticizing, but does very little to distinguish itself amongst a sea of releases. New vocalist Jenna Sanz-Agero turns in an inconsistent performance (although the production does her no favors) with a delivery that is frequently reminiscent of Natalie Merchant (ex-10,000 Maniacs). Kuehnemund’s guitar playing is the band’s strong suit, but it unfortunately is way too quiet in the album’s lackluster production. There’s really no use in going into detailed song by song analysis--while there are a few solid moments here, the majority of this material feels oversold, underdeveloped, or just plain average (see the passable but painfully average workup of Bowie’s “Suffragette City”). On top of that, there’s not a hint of metal on Live & Learn, so I’ll move on to more site-appropriate music, and suggest you do the same.
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