Music — Melissa Auf der Maur

Melissa Auf der Maur

Capitol, 2004


By Dan Szczesny

Melissa Auf der Maur certainly has a strong enough pedigree to release her own CD. The former bass player for both Hole and The Smashing Pumpkins even brought musicians from those bands to help her on her self-titled solo release. But no matter how much technical expertise musicians like James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) or Eric Erlandson (Hole) can bring to the CD, Auf der Maur’s maturity as a songwriter is half-baked at best.

With her pounding riffs and goth chorus lines, Auf der Maur is a closer cousin to Bill Corgan than Courtney Love and that’s a good thing. Auf der Maur’s voice is solid, but breathy, and more suited for power pop than shrieking. She never pushes her pipes beyond their range and the result allows for a satisfying darkness around catchy noise pop.

In fact, the strongest and most atypical song on the album, a disquieting piano number called “Overpower Thee,” depends on her dark, wispy vocals. When she sings, “I like your eyes / I like your shape / And I could easily overpower you,” you believe her.

Unfortunately, despite the strength of the music, Aug der Maur’s lyrics are nonsense: think black-light unicorn posters and you come close. One song even starts out with the neighing of a horse.

“I Need, I Want, I Will,” the only song that has the lyrics printed on the CD (so apparently an important song to Auf der Maur), is a deadly mix of Spinal Tap-like Stonehenge images and undecipherable lyrics. Here’s an example, sung in spoken word form in front of a cacophony of gothic power chords: “A building was erected / To house a dream of many: 3-dimensional sound / For these people, who made sound their lives / This was a day of life changing quality / It was loud!” Is she singing about a recording studio? Maybe druids? Who knows?

Melissa Auf der Maur has talent; this album proves it. But her ability as a songwriter has a long way to go before it catches up with her ability as a bass player.

—Dan Szczesny


2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH