REVIEW: American Hi-Fi: The Art of Losing
American Hi-Fi: The Art of Losing [Capitol, 2003]
Three words? Stop the hurting!
The similarities between American Hi-Fi and the Foo Fighters are kind of eerie. Both are led by former drummers (in the case of American Hi-Fi, Stacy Jones). Both left important grunge/alt-rock bands following the break-ups of those bands (Jones used to be in Veruca Salt). Both have much poppier sounds than those of their frontmen's previous bands. There is, however, one tiny difference between the two bands. One little thing that separates American Hi-Fi from Foo Fighters, that makes it possible to tell which band is which. And that difference is this: American Hi-Fi have made one of the worst albums I've ever heard in my life.
The Art Of Losing, you see, isn't merely bad... It's awful. Horrible. A complete and utter pile of putrid, stinking, fly-infested, maggot-ridden, been-out-in-the-sun-for-five-weeks garbage. A thesaurus wouldn't have enough synonyms for how bad this album is.
And that's just the first track.
I don't think I've ever heard an album that has filled me with such a rage. And The Art Of Losing really shouldn't. Musically, it's pretty generic stuff: your typical post-Nirvana alt-rock music. There's nothing here suggesting Jones & Co. have any awareness of music beyond three chords and a 4/4 time signature (OK, maybe they know a fourth chord). Nevertheless, the same could be said of 95 per cent of what's on the radio today.
What is it, then, that makes American Hi-Fi such a heinous piece of work? What makes it the execrable stink-factory? Quite simply, it is the way that the band presents the whole thing. They don't even try to hide the fact that they have no ideas whatsoever. On the title track that opens the album, for example, American Hi-Fi not only rip off The Ramones with a "Hey, ho, let's go!" chant, they throw in Kim Wilde's "Kids In America," too, over the closing chords - just to make sure everyone knows how, uh, "punk" they are. And then there are the song titles, so generic that they might have been produced from an enormous Modern Rock machine at Island headquarters: "Save Me", "Beautiful Disaster", "Nothing Left To Lose".
This last song is perhaps the nadir of the album (meaning it may well be one of the lowest points in music history). Jones tries to show how down he is with today's lingo by, er, "rapping" possibly the worst lines ever: "Check this rhyme / Pancho Villa was a friend of mine / I get fucked up and I kick it like Jackie Chan / With my kung fu style I'll get rid of you in a while." Perhaps the only thing better than this is when, a few unbearable verses later, Jones talks about getting his teenage kicks by listening to... Jackson Browne. Jones is in his forties, though, so least he gets points for being honest about who he was digging when he was actually a teen.
Given how awful The Art Of Losing is, it seems highly unlikely that American Hi-Fi will change their current status as one-hit wonders (they got big with "Flavor of the Weak" a few years ago [Seriously!? --Ed.])make it big, however, then a swift demise is something that should be welcomed by all people. All. Every single one of you.