The Von Bondies - Pawn Shoppe Heart

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:2004-02-09

With their White Stripes connection now shattered, the Von Bondies have been seeking their own space, away from Detroit's hipster scene. Their sense of liberation is evident in Pawn Shoppe Heart, one of the brashest, most flamboyant releases in ages, far surpassing the band's intense, misanthropic debut Lack of Communication. The main reason for this is Stollsteimer himself. Now an assured showman and writer, he possesses an archness and brazen faithlessness that recalls glam rock greats David Johansen and Mike Monroe and his delivery of songs ranging from garage grind through bubblegum rock to shrieking blues is marked by a stylish feel for wit and rhythm.

Happily held in check by producer and ex-Talking Head Jerry Harrison, the band back their singer with a tight and spiky performance, guitarist Marcie Bolen and bassist Carrie Smith adding vocal sass and sexual balance to such gems as "C'mon C'mon", "Tell Me What You See" and the excellent "Not That Social". They also shine during the thudding, rough-house blues of "Mairead", "Right of Way" and their raging cover of "Try a Little Tenderness", which arrives after what is apparently the closing title track. Pawn Shoppe Heart is an impressively dirty major-label debut. --Dominic Wills

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