ALBUM REVIEWS / POP
Patti Rothberg, “Between the 1 and the 9,'** EMI. In the great angry-white-babe tradition of Alanis Morissette comes Rothberg, another attractive young woman who mixes punk-like angst with generous doses of pop savvy, yielding catchy little ditties about unfaithful boyfriends and general post-adolescent confusion. Rothberg was supposedly discovered while busking in New York’s subway stations, but her rather trite lyrics hardly evoke the dark passion and squalor of life on the streets.
If anything, Rothberg (who headlines the Viper Room on Tuesday) gives the impression of being a nice, middle-class girl with a slight rebellious streak. On “Inside” and the Dylan-esque rant “Treat Me Like Dirt,” she romanticizes her ennui with a whiny ardor that makes her sound spoiled and self-indulgent. And on more upbeat numbers, her yearning seems glib.
That’s not to say that this debut should be written off. There’s a precocious intelligence to her raspy, sardonic vocals, and her scrupulously lean arrangements are full of tender and funky flourishes. As she matures, she may come to realize that the best songwriters get their power from transcending despair, not reveling in it.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).