Single Review by Adam Foster
WENDY is the single that Jesse Malin should have released first from his debut album THE FINE ART OF SELF DESTRUCTION. Instead, he chose to release the Springsteenesque QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD, in order, he says, to show a change from his early days with punk-protos D-Generation and Heart Attack.
But WENDY – despite the somewhat 50’s tenor of the name – is a return to the sound of his earlier career. It is a gloriously carefree and energetic pop-punk elegy to a lost love. Once heard, the “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know why” refrain sticks in the head like a comedy axe. It makes you want to get up and kick the walls with joy at the silliness of it all. Excellent.
The single is also notable for Malin’s take on The Clash’s anthemic DEATH OR GLORY (from “London’s Calling”), a tribute to his friend Joe Strummer. While this may not be to everyone’s taste – the piano and guitar arrangement does have overtones of Meatloaf’s Jim Steinman era – it is sincere, like everything Malin does.
The third track, THE 3 MARTINI LUNCH, is another cover – this time of a Graham Parker song. With a piano part taken from The Beatles’ LET IT BE, and a whining vocal, it won’t detain many people long.
But the single deserves attention for WENDY, is the closest thing Malin solo has come to replicating his natural impulses on record. If you can, see him live. If not, buy the single.