pcd: The Pussycat Dolls

MUSIC REVIEW

pcd

The Pussycat Dolls

(A&M)

1 Star

There are three reasons to purchase The Pussycat Dolls’ debut album “PCD”: family ties, complacent idiocy, and the liner notes’ Maxim-esque portfolios of the band members posing suggestively.

The group has broken out into pop consciousness with their omnipresent single “Don’t Cha,” which features an intro by Busta Rhymes (which he fumbles, like his Harvard concert appearance last year) and Atlanta legend Cee-Lo’s sensual production.

It’s 4:32 of pop fun backed by a quasi-pornographic music video: doubly hard to resist. But, damn it, you must! Watch Cinemax at night while listening to the radio. Or hit on girls at a karaoke bar. Or buy the single on iTunes.

But for God’s sake, don’t buy the whole album.“Don’t Cha” appeals to the vast majority of record-buying America: women who wish they were this sexually confident and the men who wish their women were that sexually confident.

But from that peak, the CD descends tremulously quickly to “Beep” featuring rapping and production by the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am. And boy does it show.

The song is a series of stories declaiming the lead songstress’ sexuality, but with any naughty words replaced by beeps. It’s like Will said to himself, most probably while awkwardly pleasuring the Doll look-alike and fellow Pea, Fergie: “How can we make this song as not good as possible?”

This track is the worst of Black Eyed Peas’ style of clinically anestheticized R&B, without the manic bounce he can intermittently get with his bandmates. It must be the Peas’ inclusion of relatively competent rappers rather than, well, Dolls, that gives those other jams their small dose of flavor.

While I was listening through the CD, a friend, who overheard a few tracks, declared that it was good reading music; there’s nothing in it to be distracted by because there’s nothing in it, like the wispy covers of top 40 hits played in dentists’ offices that should only be heard while high on laughing gas.

Nothing demonstrates the sage wisdom of his words more than the 11th track, “Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go,” which takes this muzak-style to dizzying new heights of suckitude, completely killing the greatness of Soft Cell’s ’80s classic “Tainted Love” through their tremendously terrible reworking.

Having seen the video for “Don’t Cha,” I was intrigued by the six beautiful women who together comprise this group. What parts do they all play? Are all their parts really them?

It seems symptomatic of the whole debacle that “ALL LEAD AND BACKGROUND VOCALS BY NICOLE SCHERZINGER” is the biggest item on the liner notes. Lower down, a handful of girls get additional background vocals credit, almost as tossed-off charity at this point.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the whole release is that 5/6 of the band is clearly just eye candy.

Not there’s anything wrong with that. But they need to put their thinking bras on and come up with more catchy covers, like “Don’t Cha” (originally released by former Outkast back-up singer Tori Alamaze) or they’ll quickly end up in the ever-expanding pantheon of one hit wonders.

“Don’t Cha” may be tearing up the Billboard charts, but nothing is colder than their cover of Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff.”

And unless you’re part of the hopefully embarrassed Scherzinger family or are sent the album through a junk-of-the-month club like Columbia House, you should never have to hear it. If you want to see those liner notes, though, just let me know.

—Staff writer Scoop A. Wasserstein can be reached at wasserst@fas.harvard.edu.