Poem Rocket

Felix Culpa

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This collection of early singles from New York's Poem Rocket shows that the stellar indie rock on their later LPs, Infinite Retry on Parallel Time Out and Psychogeography, didn't come from nowhere. On Felix Culpa, Poem Rocket splits the difference between the plodding post-punk of the Comsat Angels and the white noise of Flying Saucer Attack and Sonic Youth, though Poem Rocket isn't as obviously melodic as of any of those groups. The band's goals are achieved through repetition and texture, not melody, and Felix Culpa is a captivating record mostly because of the druggy, insistent bass and drum patterns and keyboardist/guitarist Denneye's wild noise explosions. Intelligent, sloganeering lyrics from guitarist Michael Peters and bassist Sandra Gardner drive the point home. William Weber recorded much of Felix Culpa on a four-track, but this has nothing to do with the lo-fi sound that was popular when the album was recorded: Poem Rocket favors chunky, angular guitar lines and creepy feedback over shambling pop and dry, confessional songwriting. Some of the drum-free tracks near the end of Felix Culpa deaden its impact a little, but this is a powerful debut record nonetheless.

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