White Town

Women In Technology (1997)

Thoughts Before Listening

Scott

“Your Woman” is a personal favourite of mine. I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for well executed synth-driven music, and this one has always just worked for me. Of all the hits that landed a band on our review docket, this one is way up my personal list – falling somewhere just below Deee-lite and Sinead.

I’m not sure why I’ve never listened to this album – based on the single, it should have been one I looked into. Let’s dive in and remedy this oversight. To the headphones!

Weh-Ming

What I remember about White Town: a hit that was recorded to make it sound like an old-timey record, like on “Putting on the Ritz” style. I liked the song. It was pretty fun to dance to and it was so different from everything else that was playing that it immediately stood out.

I didn’t know the album was called “Women in Technology”, and I like the cover art. I had high hopes going into this, but I have to admit: I cheated a little and listened to the first 30 seconds of the album before I started writing. I am re-calibrating my expectations accordingly. I have also identified that White Town is just one person, though there were other people that worked on the album.

Here we go!


Other Songs of Note

The icing? on the “cake”

Theme for an Early Evening American Sitcom” – 2 (begrudging) points

Scott (1 point)

I like the punchy, cool percussion. Very neat song.Maybe White Town should focus on scoring, and just kind of not sing? 

A bit of research later, and it turns out White Town’s most recent work is in fact a score to an imaginary TV show about Fairchild Semiconductor. Does that sound weird? Yes. Yes it does. But the music is actually very intriguing. It’s all instrumental and I’m enjoying it more than all of Women In Technology aside from “Your Woman”.

Weh-Ming (1 point)

This sounds like off brand Nintendo themes more than it does a sitcom. Not having any lyrics actually made this better, but I kept waiting for the terrible lyrics and singing to start so that kind of spoiled it. Otherwise, this is the only other song besides the hit that didn’t make me want to stop doing this. I think I actually liked it, not just the lesser of all evils.


Final Thoughts

Scott

I regret everything.This is not a good album, and nothing on it comes even close to “Your Woman”. 90% of this album made me cringe. Almost every song came across as pathetic, full of “poor me” lyrics and a vocal delivery that I would generously describe as amateur. It is not by accident or coincidence that the only song to which I awarded points was the instrumental – I found the lyrical content and vocal performance that off-putting.

I was considering points for a couple other songs because I don’t like leaving the list so lean, but I think my bar had been dropped dangerously low by the rest of the album. When I stepped back and asked myself the questions “Would I actually want any of these songs in my personal playlists? Do I want to hear any of these again?” The answer to both is an unequivocal NO!

Weh-Ming

Well, that was an experience that I hope to never have to re-create. 

How much did I not like this album? I made a spreadsheet of how much longer I had to go before I could stop listening. Note that I made this before track 2 had finished playing.

No.TitleRemaining time
1“Undressed”42:59
2“Thursday at the Blue Note”40:11
3“A Week Next June”35:53
4“Your Woman”31:35
5“White Town”29:11
6“The Shape of Love”23:50
7“Wanted” 19:26
8“The Function of the Orgasm”16:57
9“Going Nowhere Somehow”11:35
10“Theme for an Early Evening American Sitcom”9:18
11“The Death of My Desire”4:24
12“Once I Flew”THE END
Weh-Ming made a spreadsheet of misery.

You’ll notice that “Your Woman” is still included in this list. That’s because I broke the rule about “everything except”. I had to listen to the hit just so I could confirm that I was actually listening to the correct album and that there had been something of merit there. 

This is very cringe-worthy, so much so that it teeters into offensive: offensive to the ear and mind. Maybe it didn’t age well, but I think it maybe didn’t age well for a reason.

You should know by now that I’m not the one that does the research on the artists and the album, but I had to find out who White Town was. Turns out it is one guy, Jyoti Prakash Mishra. From the wikipedia page, I could not possibly pass this quote up:

“I’m a mediocre singer, I’m a terrible guitarist, I’m a pretty good keyboardist, I’m a good producer, not amazing, but good.”

He is at least somewhat self aware. There are multiple tracks where there is a good tune, but god help me, you won’t hear it over the sound of his singing or his lyrics.

Remember the one hit folks, remember it and never, ever think “Yeah but what else?”. For there is nothing else. NOTHING ELSE.


Yeah But What Else

Scott

Down the Rabbit Hole (Additional listening inspired by this week’s review.)

So what did listening to this album inspire? Nothing. It inspired nothing. It did make me immediately seek out other, much better music to cleanse my palate. Here is a selection of other, objectively better songs that came out of the UK in 1997.

Blur – “Song 2” – Short. Dynamic. Memorable.

Radiohead – “Paranoid Android” – One of the best songs by one of the best rock bands of all time. Thom Yorke gives a passionate, emotional, amazing vocal performance, and the band is there to back him up all the way. It’s brilliant. If you’ve never spun OK Computer, do yourself a favour and do so.

The Prodigy – “Firestarter” – Essentially the opposite of Women in Technology, this song is all aggression and break beats and it’s all the better for it. It also happens to be the song that we all wanted to race to in Wipeout XL. You just drove faster with this playing – it’s science.

The Verve – “The Drugs Don’t Work” – Beautiful, sad and haunting. See our review elsewhere on the site to hear me go on and on about it.

Chemical Brothers – “Block Rockin’ Beats” – The band that ushered in the Big Beat movement. Also the band that probably did it best.

Bonus song from across the Channel:

Daft Punk – “Around the World” – It’s sad that they’ve dissolved the band, but they leave an amazing back catalog. This comes off of their debut album and it is as effective at getting butts out of seats and onto dancefloors today as it was 24 years ago.

Double bonus song from across the pond:

Usher – “You Make Me Wanna…” – In this song, Usher sits at the absolute opposite end of the cringe / sad sack spectrum as White Town. He just oozes cool on this song. This guy knows how to talk to women. 

Semi-Obligatory Sample Source:

Lew Stone & his Monseigneur Band – “My Woman” – The source of the horn sample around which “Your Woman is crafted.

Dua Lipa – “Love Again” – The latest song to draw on the “My Woman” horn sample. It’s got a great hook, dramatic strings, and somehow feels simultaneously like a throwback and very much in the now at the same time. It’s got more than a bit of that Jamiroquai eurodisco / funk vibe that never fails to make me happy. 

Weh-Ming

This is where I usually find some connection with my favorite artist. 

Instead, I urge you to go sit in silence for 47 minutes and 18 seconds to honor the time that was sacrificed by Scott and I listening to this for you. If you do decide to listen to the album, and you want the full experience, you can use my table above to help you track how much longer you have to listen to it.

But please, don’t do it.

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