David Browne
October 12, 1990 AT 04:00 AM EDT

This Is Our Music

Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B-

Galaxie 500 is asleep at the wheel and proud of it. Like the Cowboy Junkies, Mazzy Star, and other similarly minded alternative bands, the Boston trio plays New Age rock for the college-radio set. This third album, This Is Our Music expands upon the hazy, downcast feel of last year’s critics’ favorite, On Fire, with Dean Wareham still strumming his guitar as if he barely has the energy to play a power chord, and singing in a voice to match.

Galaxie 500’s fixation on the kings of drone, the Velvet Underground, makes it a little more intense than its peers. Still, the monotony of the songwriting and the intentional drabness of the arrangements work against the group; it has absorbed Velvet founder and punk prototype Lou Reed’s penchant for the catatonic, but not his urgency. When the trio revs into relatively high gear for the opening cut, ”Fourth of July,” it’s as if a coma patient has unexpectedly moved.

Within its limited framework, the band is capable of intriguing moments. As a guitarist, Wareham occasionally breaks free from the musical torpor, engaging in effects that transform his guitar into a violin or blowtorch. And as a writer, Wareham knows a good image; ”Hearing Voices” finds him rummaging around a barren apartment, its smells and scents reminding him of half- forgotten love affairs. But the band’s remake of Yoko Ono’s squawking ”Listen, the Snow is Falling” into a bloodless ballad clearly indicates that the line between beguiling and bland is thin indeed. B-

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