The sticker on the front of this CD says, “Joey Santiago…joins his signature squall with the energetic, classically-trained popster Linda Mallari.” The last time I used the term “classically-trained” as an argument in favor of a rock star was in 6th grade debating the prowess of Steve Vai vs. Eddie Van Halen. Seriously, that doesn’t impress anymore.
But let’s not let the poor judgment of a PR copywriter get in the way of what is a fine release from the husband and wife team of Joey and Linda. But don’t expect even a hint of the Pixies in this record. No, Joey may be back on tour (thank God) with the grunt and stutter of the Pixies, but he comes home to straight up pop. Smitten is eleven tracks of what Liz Phair was trying to do on that awful mess she put out last year. It’s clean and melodic, but avoids dumbing down the lyrics and production to relate to the increasingly fractured teen radio audience. This is smarter pop with a touch of magic dust, but what would you expect with a Pixie behind the wheel?