Perfume review ~ Thierry Mugler Alien

Thierry Mugler Alien, fragrance advert

Alien, the latest fragrance release from Thierry Mugler, was created by perfumers Dominique Ropion and Laurent Bruyere, and features an "amber solar accord", a woody Cashmeran note, and jasmine sambac.

Alien is Mugler's first major fragrance for women since Angel was released in 1992. Angel has been so widely worn, and so widely copied, that it is difficult now to remember how distinctive it was considered upon its release. Reportedly some retailers were initially wary that it was too unusual and that it would never sell. As it turned out, of course, it sold quite well indeed, and Mugler acknowledges the challenge of following up a blockbuster debut:

"When we did Angel, we were completely innocent, and then it became number one in the world," he said. "Creating Alien was a huge challenge because now the whole world is watching." (via Women's Wear Daily, 6/17/05)

So, what of Alien? It starts with something, I don't know what, that is more of a feeling than a smell: dry, transparent, and warm. The "solar" part, I take it? It is joined in short order by an extremely expansive jasmine and the woody Cashmeran notes. There is also a hint of something odd and off-kilter that I also smell in Angel, and that I have heard described variously as windex, gasoline, burning hair or nail polish remover. It is slight, whatever it is, but it lasts well into the dry down.

The far dry down is woody-musky amber, with the velvety, almost-powder finish typical of Cashmeran. It is warm, but also has the "fresh" aura that establishes it immediately as a modern department store fragrance. It is slightly sweet, and although it is not foody at all, I would swear there is just a little swirl of caramel.

I think of Angel as the Giorgio of the 90s: it was everywhere, it was strong, everyone seemed to have applied one spray too many. It is too soon to say if Alien will be everywhere, but the sillage is potent, especially in the early stages. You will leave a little of it behind in every room you walk through. All the same, Alien does not seem likely to arouse the passionate responses (positive and negative) that Angel did. It is not something I would wear, but I neither loved it nor hated it. I will say that it is more interesting than most of the designer releases this year.

Thierry Mugler Alien fragrance packaging

A 30 ml refillable bottle of Thierry Mugler Alien Eau de Parfum is $65, 60 ml is $95. The budget minded can go straight for the 60 ml refill bottle, which is $65. There is also a matching shower gel and body cream. Available at Nordstrom, Saks, and Neiman Marcus.

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93 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Booo…Jasmine! I just know I am not going to like this, if jasmine is expansive as you say. Which is just as well, because I dislike the Dalek bottles, they would be indeed “alien” among my other bottles.

  2. Anonymous says:

    M, someone on MUA compared the bottle to a penguin, so now whenever I look at it, I laugh. Don't they just look like a little penguin family all in a row?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I'm sure I'll detest the juice, but those bottles are hysterical. I love them! Not sure if they were going for the penguin family look, but you nailed it on that one.

    Hey, Colombina, watch what you say about jasmine…I just sat down after harvesting a handful of grandiflorums from my garden, and tossing them into alcohol. Repeat after me..”jasmine is good, jasmine is good”.

    I'd be much more horrified at the “windex, gasoline, burning hair or nail polish remover.” Gaakkk.

    The Jasmine Queen has spoken ;-)

  4. Anonymous says:

    “jasmine is good, jamisne is good”…maybe if I repeat it long enough it will started getting along with my skin chemistry. LOL

  5. Anonymous says:

    OK, now I see a penguin…Oh my…

  6. Anonymous says:

    I felt like you–neither loved nor hated it. The bottle is much more interesting in person, especially the 30ml one. I love jasmine sambac and I like Cashmeran, but not sure why the combination of two of them was so uninspiring.

  7. Anonymous says:

    A, I am sure you will detest the juice too. I didn't detest it at all, but as I said, not something I would wear.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Those bottles look hilarious all lined up! “We're from France” LOL (if you don't know, that's from that old Conehead skit from the great SNL).

    I haven't sniffed this yet, but I love “the color purple”, too!

  9. Anonymous says:

    V, have not yet seen it in person yet…really need to do a department store run soon. Was surprised they were selling the refill instead of having you bring the bottle back to the store, as they do with Angel.

    • Owen says:

      they do Angel refill botlles now.
      and I didn’t know you had to go in store for it refilling ??

  10. Anonymous says:

    P, LOL — now whenever I see these I will think of Penguins & the coneheads…

  11. Anonymous says:

    I sampled Alien at Nordie's and I'm sorry to say this, but it's a “scrubber”. It was awful. Maybe it was just my chemistry but I couldn't get that fragrance washed off my skin fast enough. And, to make matters worse, it was one of those scents that stay with you 24 hours later even though you have scrubbed it off. Why can't the perfumes I love have that kind of staying power? Anyway, I have a sample that I am willing to send to anyone who wants it.

    • Owen says:

      I’d take it but that comment was like 5years ago, ha!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Sign me up for the Violent Hate group for Alien. That Windex/acetone/WTH accord is very prominent on me. Had to scrub off, then throw the scent strip into the garbage can outside.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Oh dear, a scrubber, LOL! It is a rule that nothing you love will last longer than 4 hours, isn't it, and everything else will not come off without resorting to Liquid Tide.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The bottles do look like penguins, don't they?

    I plan to be a Nordies today and will test this. But from what I am hearing, I don't think it will be my cup of tea. I love Angel, and wish it would not come up all patchouli on my skin. But let's face it: It's next to impossible to follow-up with another blockbuster, especially when you don't specialize in perfume. Let's see how this one does. :):)

    Hugs, and have a great weekend, darling!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ok, looks like I need to amend the part about Alien not provoking passionate responses!

  16. Anonymous says:

    R, let me know what you think. Agree that it is hard to follow up on Angel…this is a decent try, anyway. Enjoy your trip to Nordies! I need to get out and test the new Brit Gold & RL Turquoise myself.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Rather than Daleks or penguins, I think the bottle designer may have been thinking of the very mysterious alien on the sci-fi TV series Babylon 5. See the photo of the character Ambassador Kosh Naranek on the Web site http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/universe/cast-1.html .

    Just a thought!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps you are right, I am quite sure they were not going for penguins, LOL! I know Mugler also wanted something that looked like a faceted amethyst.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Hello R! I will not buy this but it is better than Angel (that is giving a lot of credit being an enemy of that perfume).

    You should see the hysterical promotions in Galeries Lafayette…

    The colour of the bottle is gorgeous as I had written but not a fan of the bottles except the tiniest one…

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Hugs!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Oh good lord, now I've got an image of Conehead aliens stuck in my brain, too!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hahaha! I thought the bottles were really beautiful until the penguin comment!!! It's sooo true.

    In any case, there is no way I could be paid enough money to buy, wear, or even sample this stuff now that i know it has the same windex/gasoline/acetone note as Angel.

    Angel is without a doubt my least favorite fragrance ever. It is literally the scent equivalent of nails on a chalkboard or styrofoam pieces rubbing against each other or a dried out permanent marker being pressed onto cardboard. I can't overstate enough how utterly shocked and appalled I was (am) that it is such an incredibly popular scent. Seriously, as I once said before, it almost keeps me up at night.

    Sad, because jasmine sambac is one of my all-time favorite notes, and cashmeran is nice as well. Darn that windex accord.

    A side note: I think “Alien” is a truly brilliant and avant-garde choice of name, on par with Opium and Poison. (I also love the names Fracas, Tubereuse Criminelle, and Carnal Flowers!!!)

  22. Anonymous says:

    Hi N! TM knows how to put on a show so I am sure the promotions are entertaining…would love to see the “Initiatic Space”. You have a great weekend too :-)

  23. Anonymous says:

    No…you should sample it, really! The toxic thing is very, very slight, and aren't you even curious? I want to smell everything!

  24. Anonymous says:

    i'll certainly sniff it if i pass by it in the store or happen upon a sample…but i'm not promising i'll like it!!

    i do agree though, i like to smell everything. after reading the article (on basenotes i think) about dark perfumes, i want to go back and smell all those scents that i didn't like before (mitsouko, shocking, etc.)

    i love that you called it the toxic thing…

  25. Anonymous says:

    PENGUINS!? Yes, I see it now! That is HILARIOUS!

    I have to admit I like the aroma of Alien, but I certianly don't love it, I don't think a bottle will be gracing my collection any time soon. I didn't get the toxic note at all, but I did get a dewy green note that seemes suspended throughout the composition that I quite liked. Overall, I thought the scent was uninspired. Still, I'm sure it'll make money…

  26. Anonymous says:

    M, I am almost sorry I saw that penguin reference, now I can hardly look at the bottles without laughing.

    Have seen several comments calling it green, and I am starting to wonder if I am missing some green receptors — it just doesn't strike me that way at all. It is very beige to me! Yes, I am sure it will make money too. Not as much as Angel, but still.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I see Heckel (or perhaps Jeckel?) in a Vorlon encounter suit- DH is a big Babylon 5 fan so the image leapt out at me. I'm a big dork I know.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Now I'm hearing Dalek voices saying, ” YOU WILL BUY OUR SCENT. YOU WILL SMELL GOOD.”

  29. Anonymous says:

    “Extremely expanisve jasmine” indeed. I normally even like jasmine, but I also like a perfume to go somewhere or at least smell weird in the first place if it doesn't. This seems very linear to me and just plain not very risky. (Have any of you ever seen that Guerlain brochure that describes the “perfume personalities”? I wear perfume to a) seduce, b) improve my mood, c) as a dare or to shock people or d) smell clean and hygenic? Suffice to say that I fall under the category with the wide-eyed model who recommends Jicky.) I guess I was hoping it would smell like a penguin. The counter lady insisted on giving me a sample and told me it would “definitely be the perfume of the year.” I'm wearing it today but it's just not growing on me.

  30. Anonymous says:

    My very first reaction was to look around for the cast & crew of Babyalon 5. Having said that, I totally “get” the penguin analogy.

    As for the juice, it's strong & made my head spin. Even though I usually love jasmine sambac, this combination did not “work” on me but then again neither did Angel.

    It's a shame they spent so much money on something uninspiring. I think they just tried too hard.

  31. Anonymous says:

    LOL at “hoping it would smell like a penguin”! Maybe the big risk was just in not doing another Angel clone, when frankly, so many other companies still are?

  32. Anonymous says:

    Will be very interesting to see if Alien turns out to be a big seller, but I would not bet any money on it. Thierry Mugler Cologne is still my favorite from the line, and would not be at all surprised if that one sells the least of all of them.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I am a dork too, just an older dork. If it were more obviously a nod to Star Wars or the earlier Star Trek shows, I wouldn't be seeing penguins.

  34. Anonymous says:

    You just don't see enough Vorlon encounter suits these days. And LOL at heckel, jeckel and … xoxo

  35. Anonymous says:

    Hi Dawn – if you are still willing, I would love to try it (despite the foul reviews, I just cannot resist the temptation!)

  36. Anonymous says:

    This stuff was nauseating. I could not get away from the huge display in the Galeries Lafayette fast enough and put as much space between me and that smell as possible. I agree they tried too hard. And the bottle does nothing for me. Of course I hate Angel as well, although I admire it more (from a distance). I can wear A*men if I'm really in the mood for patchouli and cocoa, but now that I have Borneo 1834 I may not even need it for that.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Ok, I completely withdraw my statement that it would not arouse the passionate responses that Angel did…I guess anything with this much sillage is going to annoy everyone who doesn't care for the smell! Have not tried A*Men or B*Men yet, but do really like Cologne.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I find this scent is reminiscent of Lolita Lempicka for men. It smells sort of licoricy to me. I like licorice on my husband, but not so much on myself.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Interesting — I did not get licorice, but can see the comparison to Lolita Lempicka all the same. Have you tried the men's version of LL? I like it better than the women's.

  40. Anonymous says:

    i recently bought alien and i love it!

  41. Anonymous says:

    Enjoy your bottle :-)

  42. Anonymous says:

    I am very surprised to read all of the negative comments about this fragrance. I absolutely love it, and get compliments on it from men and women all the time! I liked it so much the first time I smelled it I chose it as my wedding fragrance. I'm not sure what you are talking about when you mention the “toxic” note, I can't smell it. I have been a loyal “Angel” wearer since 2001 and upgraded to Alien in 2006. Give this fragrance a chance, you might just like it!

  43. Anonymous says:

    I don't think Alien has managed to build up the huge “love it or hate it” audience that Angel has — it just hasn't had that kind of impact on the market — but it obviously has fans and detractors. Glad you have found a favorite!

  44. Anonymous says:

    I think like many new perfumes these days, this one is a “love i, or hate it”. I took a whiff of this perfume when it came out and immediately detested it. When I tried to walk away I was practically chased down by the perfume sales-woman begging me to “just try the cream” I told her “no thank you, i'm in a hurry”, but she insisted I try it, so, I stuck out my hand and she rubbed it on. And what do ya know?! I loved it! It brought back memories of the summer. That day I had a jar of the cream on hold for me. My point here is that I think alot of you would find the cream much more pleasant. “Just try it”.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Glad you found a favorite! Creams are often easier to take than the “real thing” :-)

  46. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robin, tried Alien today for the very first time and I like it very much! Was so determined (who knows why?) that I could not like Alien but my bias lost it from my taste…:-)

    And that nail polish thing in te very end makes me like it even more.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Glad you like it! The packaging is way cool :-)

  48. Anonymous says:

    Hi, just joined and first post (just learning about pefumes).

    I recently tried this and it winded up smelling like caramel with powdered sugar on top. At least on me. It lasted forever and it wouldn't wash off.

    Take my opinion with a grain of salt as I understand zilch about fragrence, but i honestly can't stand this on me.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Hi and welcome! You don't have to know anything about perfume to recognize one you can't stand :-)

  50. Anonymous says:

    I love Alien. The lasting power is amazing, it lasts FOREVER. I have never smelled something like this before. It smells… metallic, bright, deep and fresh but also sweet.
    Amazing juice!!

  51. Anonymous says:

    It really does last forever :-)

  52. Anonymous says:

    for sure :)

    it did last a few days on my coat :O

  53. Anonymous says:

    So all the times I've smelled this, I've LOVED it. Now that I've happened upon a sample, and am wearing it on my skin, I'm very unsure. This is interesting considering I very nearly purchased a bottle.
    I hope I can deal with it. I hope I love it. And I kind of hope other people say it smells good on me. It smells very sweet and woody on me, with maybe a hint of sweet amber. But I'm only 25 minutes in. Let's hope I can work it out.

  54. Anonymous says:

    I liked the Alien Eau Luminiscente better, but really they're both just too strong & sweet for me…

  55. Anonymous says:

    it took me a while to love Alien, lets say after 5 tries..lol…

    i also love Alien Le Luminescente….amazing flanker! :D

  56. Anonymous says:

    Agree, they did a nice job on that one.

  57. peachykeen says:

    I absolutely LOVE this fragrance!!!!!!!!!! I bought nine, yes, NINE bottles. I wear it day and night. I spray it on every time I go into my powder room. I will keep a bottle at work and spray on at lunch. It is the most exciting scent to come along sice Red and Poison.

    • Robin says:

      Wow, nine bottles! Hope it has a long shelf life.

    • Owen says:

      @peachykeen

      why not just get the refillable? I am
      it will save you loads

  58. alwayscatchingup says:

    I’m with what looks like the majority – I tried Alien in the shop and hated it. I actually asked the shop lady if something like that could be selling well (answer: a non-commital shrug and a funny look). And per the Murphey’s law of perfume it stayed on me til the next day in spite of scrubbing. But now I have to go back and try Angel ( on a strip!) if only out of curiosity.
    I’m new to perfumery and I love learning here what it is in perfumes I like or dislike. The reviews are always great -!

    • Robin says:

      Somebody must be buying the stuff or they’d have discontinued it by now, though!

      And so glad you like the site :-)

  59. fiabelle1 says:

    so distinctive, they are right it leaves a trail everywhere- but in a good way! i am in love with the bottle and the scent

  60. APassionateJourney says:

    I sprayed this on a card years ago when I was just a fragrance novice :). I didn’t like it then. Sprayed it on a card last year, still didn’t like it :/. My friend gave me 3 samples last week, sprayed it on the back of my hand, and I’m in looooooooveeeee! I reeeaaallly like it. It’s sweet and kinda powdery/flowery at the same time! However, the price is outrageous! For what they’re selling for a 1.0 oz you can get a full sized bottle of something else!!! I meeean! However, I think I’ll break down and get a bottle and the cream :)

    • Robin says:

      I know you prefer to pay full price, but it can be had MUCH cheaper online!

  61. APassionateJourney says:

    I’m all for paying cheaper these days! What sites do you suggest I get it from?? What website do you buy from?

    • Robin says:

      I buy from whichever reputable store has it cheapest. I’ve bought from Beautyencounter, Scentiments, 99perfume, Perfume.com, FragranceX, Fragrancenet, Parfum1. I didn’t price at all of those, but this looks like a deal if you don’t need a big bottle:

      http://www.beautyencounter.com/3439602800515.html?search

  62. APassionateJourney says:

    I’m gonna check it out! I don’t mind payin’ full price as long as I’m gettin” my money’s worth! 75 bucks for a 1 oz isn’t EVER worth it unless it’s LIQUID GOLD!

    I had a question, though. Why does Alien’s 1 oz. look bigger than the Harajuku Lover’s 1 Oz?

    • Robin says:

      30 ml is not a lot of juice…the TM pictures might just be bigger.

  63. APassionateJourney says:

    Thanks, Robin, for all of the help! Does this site look like it’s real??

    http://www.smelldelicious.com/SearchResults.asp?mfg=Thierry+Mugler

    Those prices are really low!

    • Robin says:

      No idea — never heard of them, sorry! I usually do a board search at MakeupAlley to see if there’s any feedback, but if I can’t find any, I usually stick to the companies I know.

  64. Kinan says:

    I absolutely love this perfume! My mother bought it for me while travelling overseas since I had tested it before and liked it. It’s amazing what type of response I get when wearing it ~ everybody always wants to know what I’m wearing and they say it smells great. Especially my male friends love it and constantly want to smell me (I know it sounds strange!)
    Once, a woman was walking in front of me in the mall and I caught a whiff of her perfume and thought it was amazing ~ only to later realise that it was Alien she’s wearing. Not everyone’s skin combo matches with the perfume but if it does, buy it!

    • Robin says:

      Glad you found something that works so well for you!

  65. Butterscotch says:

    hey people I love alien omg its amazing i like it better then angel! i always get great complments from my home girls !

  66. APassionateJourney says:

    Got my Alien bottle today!!! YAY!

  67. APassionateJourney says:

    Or, yesterday, the 18th, should I say :)

  68. parfumliefhebber says:

    It is impossible for me to become friends with Alien. I often tried it, but I always became a sick feeling (and I really used very little). The EdT is a little better, but the sick feeling stays. Such a pity.

  69. Owen says:

    I got Alien today :D

    I got the refillable set. it has the 30ml refillable and 60ml refill.
    which was meant to be £78 but it was reduced to £38 ! if bought seperatley they would total like £96. so I saved a heck of a lot :)

    I also tried Angel while I was in Debenhams today. I couldn’t pick any of the notes out that it’s supposed to contain, it just flows into one smell. it’s not particularly sweet, just kind of creamy.

    it’s also kind of annoying, you can smell it constantly because it’s just one of them fragrances you’ll never get used to, and man is it STRONG, shame Alien doesn’t have that kind of strength.

    umm but Angel gave me a headache :( so I had to wash it off, and it’s STILL here on my arm, urg makes my head fuzzy.

  70. AmyO says:

    Just got my bitty bottle of Alien from Beautyencounter. So glad I found this site – I would never have known that I could buy a fairly inexpensive small size online to try a perfume out at home. I am a budding perfumista thanks to Now Smell This!

    I loved the way Alien smelled when I tried it in-store, but did not want to invest in a gigantic bottle that would turn before I could use it. Trying it now and so far liking it, but it’s muskier than I remembered. Only 20 minutes in, it does seem to be turning warm and powdery on me. Very nice, but I’m not so sure now that I would make this my go-to scent. I don’t love it as much as I did the first time I tried it.

    For the record, I cannot stand Angel. I was surprised that I liked Alien so much! Incidentally, my first thought today was that Alien reminded me of a musky version of Poison. Anyone else smell that?

    • Robin says:

      Wear it a few more times, it might surprise you again! I did not think of Poison, interesting connection — will have to try them together some time.

  71. Santinian says:

    I am very new to the perfume hobby (it is a hobby, isn’t it?). Alien was the first scent I fell in love with. Our chemistry was explosive and every time I wore it I got a comment about how good I smelled. I never got a response wearing other perfumes (which include Chanel Allure, L’Instant de Guerlain and Lancome Magie Noire).

    I’ve just bought Sisley Eau du Soir and I’m thinking about buying Amouage Memoir in an effort to find my “signature scent”. I want something that’s uncommon (not many people wear it) but also very attractive. Perhaps I should just stick with Alien? I know it’s supposed to be a complex scent but on me it smells rather simple; it reminds me of the sampaguita flower which grows in my home country the Philippines.

    • Robin says:

      It can be a hobby, certainly! Glad you’re having fun with it.

  72. applesunshine says:

    I love this scent- it’s too bad it doesn’t smell as good on me as it does on my friend, but it still smells good enough for me to want to wear it everyday! I smell the gasoline scent right when I put it on, and I HATE it. The initial scent is horrible horrible horrible. Within an hour or less, however, the scent transforms into what I can only describe as purpley. I’m not one for describing fragrances, but it smells awesome. It’s mysterious but still a little floral, and isn’t too sweet at all.

  73. Subhuman says:

    Wow, I don’t smell anything even slightly off-kilter in Alien, and it’s all the better for it, methinks. (Angel was weird enough for three fragrance lines, never mind one!) I find Alien simple, elemental and legible, but vivid and glittering, in sharp contrast to the thick, jarring, and demanding Angel. It’s got that same creamy, pearlescent jasmine that’s in everything from Narciso Rodriguez to Bath & Body Works, but dialed up to 10 and balanced perfectly with the woody amber base. Misleadingly named, but lovely nonetheless.

  74. perfumesoso says:

    I bought a bottle of Alien last year which was recommended by a French perfume sales person at Nords. I liked it at the beginning otherwise I wouldn’t have bought it. Then I received a lot of compliments about the fragrance I carried each day on my body. Now I love it! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Alien to any lady.

  75. ChocolatEyes613 says:

    A 1.0 once refillable bottle of Thierry Mugler Alien was my birthday present from my father, recently. Alien is a jasmine explosion, with a very creamy drydown. I have been receiving many complements when wearing it.

  76. alienette says:

    I’ve been wearing Angel for well over a year now and I truly love it. Everyone compliments me on it, and even when I wear the tiniest spritz, it has super staying power. SO….since I get the Theirry Mugler mailings, I knew he’d done an Alien Aqua Chic as well as an Angel Aqua Chic. Didn’t like either, at Macy’s today, but bought my first bottle of Alien. The lotion is much heavier than the perfume, but I am going to easy to begin with . A few hours in and I keep smelling my arm….it’s ridiculous. I have a feeling I’m going to love it as much as I love Angel.

  77. alienette says:

    Ok, so realizing I didn’t really describe the perfume at all, here goes: after a shower, after my test run with it. Sprayed a bit at the neck and some of the cream on my forearms. The first ‘blast’ is very strong, but I don’t a gasoline or nail polish remover scent, I think of it as green. Like really bright green. Maybe this is the jasmine? There’s a woodsy/mossy character that really grabs me, and it’s all kind of powdery, though in a very unique, other-wordly ‘fusion’ of all the notes, and I don’t know what they all are. It’s intriguing. Perhaps this is the reason for the name? It is unlike any perfume I’ve every tried. And interestingly enough, I think it’s much headier than Angel. I’m curious to see if I get the same reactions I do with Angel.

  78. sweetgrass says:

    I’ve tried Alien a couple of times. From the description, I wanted to like it (and I like the PENGUINS..IN..SPAAAAAAACE (said with lots of reverb) bottle). I like the jasmine sambac and cashmeran, but the part that sticks in my mind is that windexy accord that others have mentioned. For me it’s just enough to be off-putting.

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