Regurgitator

...Art

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Although their first two albums of playful love-them-or-hate-them genre fusions found fans among the alternative audience in Australia, Regurgitator's third album, ...Art, was less popular upon release. As the album cover declared, "actual product may not match expectations." Confounding the expectations of the fans, however, doesn't stop it being one of their best albums. ...Art was, appropriately enough, an artistic breakthrough that took the musical vehicle Regurgitator had clumsily welded together from discarded scraps of funk, metal, hip-hop, and '80s synth pop and jammed it into high gear. They continued with the crazed experimentalism that delights as many listeners as it frustrates in songs like "Happiness," which is best described as dance-rock with string stings. Then there's "Strange Human Being," a funk number that stops for a scratch break halfway through, then rises from the grave as a sped-up and fuzzed-out rock version of itself before dissolving into static that still manages to keep the beat. The obligatory song about their fascination with their own fame and its downsides is observed in the synth pop "Freshmint!," which is exceeded for perfection in its reminiscence of the decade before only by the handclaps and drum machine of "Lonely Guy." Quan Yeomans puts on his English accent for a spot-on rap sendup of bad DJs called "I Like Repetitive Music." "Ghost" represents the beginning of the trend to write songs about monsters that would blight some of their later releases, as if they were looking for inspiration by leafing through a Dungeons & Dragons rulebook, although it's made worthy by Beatlesque backwards guitar here. The perfect, breathless, bam-bam-bam punk in "I Wanna Be a Nudist" contrasts with old-school squelchy hip-hop beats in "Feels Alright!" They even find time to realize the kitschy fabulousness of the theme song to the British comedy Are You Being Served? with a remix, beating DJ Food and D.K. to the punch by years. "Virtual Life" is another of their beautiful epics with depressing lyrics, showing that "Just Another Beautiful Story" wasn't a one-off. Although ...Art marks the moment the backlash began, just as they'd predicted in "I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff," the years have been kind to it. Their fascination with reviving the sounds of the '80s and their short-attention-span eclecticism now seem years ahead of their time.

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