The Mink Lungs

I'll Take It

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One of the best things about indie rock is its embrace of the silly as well as the serious. Bands such as the Flaming Lips, Ween, and, to a lesser extent, Pavement and the groups in the Elephant 6 collective never shied away from their goofier sides; more often than not, this improved their music and gave it a more well-rounded quality. The Mink Lungs want very badly to belong to this tradition, but on their second album, I'll Take It, they end up sounding like a novelty rock band, and not a terribly inspired one at that. While songs like "Men in Belted Sweaters" are definitely silly, their silliness doesn't reach the inspired or infectious levels of the aforementioned bands. It's not for lack of trying, however -- if anything, the Mink Lungs try too hard, using different sounds and quirky voices on each of I'll Take It's songs. The deep, rumbling vocals and surging guitars on "Black Balloon," "X-Ray Gun," and the title track never quite come together in a meaningful or successful way, and the slack tempos that dominate songs such as "The Secret Admirer" and "Awesome Pride" aren't especially engaging either. Indeed, it's hard to care about most of I'll Take It, which makes the songs that work on some level stand out even more. "Start from Scratch" manages to charm, sounding a little bit like Van Morrison's work with Them, while "Bunny Bought a Spaceship," with its drowsy vocals and warm pianos, could be a Lambchop parody. "Sensual Pleasure," which is sung by female Mink Lung Miss Frosty, dips into new wave, and "Dishes" -- the tale of a guy who washes "dishes" at a diner and then goes to a frat party, only to burn the place down -- has a little bit of the pissed-off attitude and punky melodicism of the Pixies, one of the Mink Lungs' biggest influences (and yet another band that mixed humor into its music better than this one does). Still, four good songs out of 17 isn't really the best ratio; unfortunately, I'll Take It is less playful than it is trivial.

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