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Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2003



Kimya Dawson: "I'm Sorry That Sometimes I'm Mean"

The biggest star to emerge from New York's antifolk scene is Beck Hansen, but before King Loser went legit he was more of a hanger-on than a guiding light. The Moldy Peaches -- 30-year-old Kimya Dawson and 21-year-old Adam Green -- embody the antifolkies' art-is-fun credo more convincingly, and having recently curated an antifolk compilation for Rough Trade, the two lead the movement at the moment. Nevertheless, "anti" is a more descriptive morpheme for their music than "folk" is. They often dress in kiddie costumes (Peter Pan, bunny rabbits), and most of their songs are potty-mouthed and nursery-rhymed.

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They're also funny and true in a remarkable way. As evidenced on solo albums the partners just released, Adam is the funny Peach and Kimya the true one. While Kimya's collection, "I'm Sorry That Sometimes I'm Mean," includes one song that shows off her punk-aggressive side, everything else is in the confessional, singer-songwriter mode.

Singing in a voice that barely breaks a whisper and strumming restlessly on an electric guitar turned down to two, Kimya seems unsure of her talent but totally OK with her feelings. Accompanied by queer extraneous noises (sirens? footsteps?), she alternates sing-song word-association verses with sad choruses that aptly convey her particular romantic dilemma. In "Rocks With Holes," the album's only epic (six minutes), she relates with uncommon verbal facility the tale of a girl who may or may not have attempted suicide. The rhyme scheme alone is chillingly evocative: skater-later-date her-hate her turns into misled-bed-red-dead.

Having grown up in a house that doubled as a day-care center, Kimya's childlike sensibility is anything but a ploy, and though she exploits it humorously on "Talking Ernest," which relates a discussion between three dolls with pull-string voices, and on "Stinky Stuff," where she passes the mike to some excitable preschooler pals, it also allows her to survey her emotional landscape with clear eyes. "You keep your stability," she says to the world, "I'll keep my heart."

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