I was intrigued when I saw "I Know What Boys Like" included in the track listing for ACO’s 2006 mini-album, mask. When I heard a 30-second excerpt of the track, I couldn’t wait to hear the whole thing.
Although considered a one-hit wonder, The Waitresses recorded two of the smartest post-punk albums of the era. Main songwriter Chris Butler approached his songs like a theater composer. (He even admitted wanting to write a musical in the liner notes for the 1990 compilation, The Best of Waitresses.) He spun long yarns with sharp wit, made all the more sassy by singer Patty Donahue.
"I Know What Boys Like" and "Christmas Wrapping" are pretty much the Waitresses’ legacy, but even those songs are more literary than most pop confections.
ACO changes the setting of the song. Replacing the live band with cold electronics, ACO’s reading of "I Know What Boys Like" feels like a futuristic phone sex ad, where copulation — or the promise thereof — happens in the virtual.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but ACO’s icy deadpan is all her own. She wisely doesn’t try to outsass Donahue’s seminal performance.
I’ve heard tell of mask falling flat with ACO fans, but I don’t venture out into the fan community enough to corroborate. I know I like the mini-album because ACO just couldn’t go further than irony without turning into Godspeed You! Black Emperor.