The Veronicas – The Secret Life Of… (2006)
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The Secret Life Of...

There was this girl when I was in high school — I forget her name, but it was probably Heather or Shannon, or maybe even both — for whom I developed an intense crush during my junior year. I didn’t know her or anything about her, but that wasn’t important. What was important was that she was really, really good-looking. So I did what I had to do in order to get her attention, and wound up — oh sweet victory of adolescent victories — walking her home after school one day.

You probably see where I’m going with this. We weren’t even halfway to her house before I realized I had made a terrible error in judgment. This beautiful girl had a serious problem: She had been born without a brain. Every time she opened her mouth, something stupid fell out. I can’t remember what we were talking about, or exactly what she said that set off red flags in my hormonally warped teenage brain, but it must have been powerful dumb. We got to her door and I made a hasty retreat. I think I may have even broken out in a cold sweat.

Weeks later, I bumped into Heather Shannon at school, and she asked me why I hadn’t called her. When I responded that I had lost my phone (and we’re talking real phones here, not cellphones), and her reply was a surprised “Really?!?” I knew I had made the right decision.

I’m telling you this because that was the day I learned a valuable life lesson; namely, that intelligence is a core component of beauty. Over the years, I’ve met many women whose attractiveness diminished rapidly after they started to speak, and my thoughts always turn to that day.

Meet The Veronicas:

Yes, they’re twins.

I believe most rock critics are men — men likely without a Heather Shannon in their past — and this accounts for the unaccountably positive press this album has been getting. One of the more accurate reviews I’ve read said The Secret Life Of… lets the listener know what it would sound like if both Simpson sisters were Jessica, and that’s a decent nutshell for this album; it’s the most aggressively vapid music I’ve heard in as long as I can remember. It makes Morningwood sound like Rubber Soul.

Plenty of writers take the position that music this transparently, flawlessly packaged and assembled has its own sort of artistic ür-value. I myself have argued this point. There’s a particular sort of joy that comes from hearing a talented songwriter take you from Point A to Point B to Point C; when they’re blended with love, the ingredients of the pop formula never get stale. There’s no love here, though, just cynical cash-grabbery. The whole fucking thing is plastic, hollow, and joyless; it’s a facsimile of good pop music, the kind of stuff you hear when the kids in your favorite shitty sitcom form a “band” just in time for the Big School Dance. In fact, someone could write a great dissertation drawing a straight line between the televised songworks of Anson “Potsie” Williams and Veronicas songs like “Mouth Shut” (download).

I will say, in the album’s limited defense, that “Secret” (download) — and its refrain of “I thought you were gay” — is gut-bustingly hilarious (albeit probably unintentionally so).

Awful. Just awful.