When I heard the first verse in “Donna Said”—“Big house party in the Hollywood Hills…Red Hot (Chili) Peppers on the stereo”—I reached for the eject button. It conjured images of Don Henley partying with Flea, lines of coke, and bubblebrained conversations about how Thoreau speaks to them. But then the Maladies uncork this catchy chorus that tips its cap to the Kinks (“D-O-N-N-A/Sounds like L-O-L-A/Ray Davies sang about it but I must tell my story”). Two songs into the disc it’s a draw—the repulsive kept in check by the potentially appealing. Singer Erik Gillberg’s clever vocal lines are outweighed by the brass ring feel that permeates the disc—the party guy lyrics, the slicker-than-catshit-on-linoleum production (thanks for the phrase, dad)—it’s like being around those people at a party who look past you because they’re scanning the room for someone cooler. Let’s move on.
–Mike Faloon (Darkjoy)