The band's major label debut also turned out to be its crowning glory, a fun, always entertaining and energetic release that spills over with life. Produced excellently by Mekons lead figure Jon Langford, a fellow Leeds person, Asquarius completely stood apart from everything released in 1992 and as a result sounds even more unique and interesting as time goes on. Even in a couple of the calmer, more reflective moments, one senses Cud is still giving it everything they have, while on the more obviously upbeat tip they trip from one catchy minimasterpiece to the next. Musically the quartet balance indie pop and light funk with just enough rock bite throughout to really connect, while Puttnam sounds like he should be taking a bow every night. "Rich and Strange," the brilliant opening track, describes Puttnam's voice as well as anything, while the song itself is a triumph of how humor in music need not mean archly nerdy bad jokes, even as the song gets increasingly anthemic as it goes. The other singles from the album were also understandable highlights -- "Through the Roof," a tight, acoustic guitar-led groove that is a slightly more wired cousin to "Magic," and the fantastic "Once Again." This song, with a smart string arrangement and some simply exquisite acoustic guitar from both Dunphy and Langford, is at once a slyly funny and deeply melancholy end-of-romance number, with Puttnam's low, soft singing some of his best. Then there's "Spanish Love Song," with a just-flamenco-enough guitar leading into a surprisingly effective portrayal of a love that bitterly lingers on, the band's work matching the sentiments very well. Add in everything from the concluding freak frazzle of "No Smoking" to the breezy summertime good music vibes of "Magic Alex" and the harmonica-tinged sass of "Soul Food," and Asquarius comes up smelling of roses throughout. Kudos to the hilarious inside art picturing other releases 'not available on A&M,' including the suspect Donkey With a Fez On and Ignore the Hobbit.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett