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ALBUM REVIEW : JULIANA HATFIELD, "Only Everything" ( Mammoth/Atlantic ) ***

April 02, 1995|Chris Willman

Consider Juliana Hatfield the anti-Courtney. On her third album's opening track, the girlish-voiced singer rails against the rules of self-debasement ("Nasty grungy deceptive wrecked") and makes it clear that, in looking upon those who might indulgently revel in darkness for drama's sake, she's a baffled outsider ("What a life, you wear it like propriety / What a life, I watch it like a scary movie").

Ironically, Hatfield has borrowed the producers of Hole's "Live Through This," Paul Q. Kolderie and Sean Slade, to lend a heavier guitar crunch to her sweetness. At times this pointed distortion combines with her poppy side to good effect, lending a Bob Mould-y kind of buoyant melancholy; a few songs merely seem bogged down by the sonics.

But whether it's because of the guitar ruckus or just because of the jaded competition, her post-adolescent dashed romanticism--and her post-postmodern moral high ground--suddenly seems less precious. In the alternative-rock realm, it takes guts to be this innocent.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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