My Favorite
A Cult of One
(Double Agent DA018CD)

How I hate to use a Star Wars comparison, but how can I not: For A Cult of One is the Empire Strikes Back of My Favorite's "Joan of Arc" series. Brooding, dark, rainy, and lyrical – the beautifully broken second act. Songs that understand you. Songs you understand.

The curtain opens on "Le Monster," perfect and strong like "Homeless Club Kids on the first EP. When this band is on top of their game, they beat their idols hands down. It's like when Ralph Macchio finally kicks Mr. Miyagi's ass at the end of The Karate Kid IV. What, that never happened? Well, it should have.

And anyway, I like my version of the world better, because in my world, My Favorite is extremely famous. They're selling out Wembley, they're required listening for every dorm in the world, you see disaffected high schoolers with My Favorite tattoos.

Sure, in the real world, I doubt even any of the members of My Favorite has a My Favorite tattoo, but come on – indulge me.

"The Suburbs Are Killing Us," "The Black Cassette" – these are songs that know they're great, but they're not too in your face about it. They allow you to peek into some sacred privacy and unlock your own. The atmospheric "John Dark" closes things out on a brilliant, intimately brutal downcast note, like the last few moments before a really good suicide.

If I have any complaint about My Favorite, it's that the songs sung by leader Michael Grace, Jr. are not quite there – he doesn't always let himself out of the cage to become something more than the artists who inspire him – that is, to become himself.

But given the music this guy is making, it's hardly a quibble. He's a solid vocalist with a lot of presence, and he has the good taste to give Andrea Vaughn the truly spellbinding songs.

One day, my world and the real one will collide, and I'll enjoy the liberation. For now, though, I cherish and guard these EPs like my journal, like my heart.

Review by Reggie Barr