Bigelf

Money Machine

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Bands like Bigelf were supposed to appear on the scene as though fully-formed, often backed by major labels whose generous budgets allowed them to refine their complex arrangements and progressive ambitions in relative seclusion, only to emerge when absolutely ready: miraculously poised and godlike. But such luxuries became increasingly rare once record companies began sacrificing artist development in order to pour their funds into superficial pop music confections, forcing Bigelf, at least, to endure their growing pains in plain view, as evidenced by 1997's decidedly flawed Closer to Doom EP. This gradual maturation process continues apace on 2000's Money Machine, via notably improved production almost worthy of the insistently unorthodox pysch-doom creations of Damon Fox, which, for their part, finally begin to make sense despite meshing Woodstock's summer of love and Altamont's winter of despair in equal measures. To put it more simply, rarely have apocalyptically distorted Gibson SGs and bubbling Farsifa organs come together more lovingly, lasciviously, and explosively than on this album's opening title track, "Neuropsychopathic Eye," and "Ironheel," all of which simultaneously celebrate their contradictory displays of brute force and graceful virtuosity. Elsewhere, surprisingly direct and compact songs like "Side Effects" and "(Another) Nervous Breakdown" boast particularly infectious chorus hooks, while hypnotic ballad "The Bitter End" delivers a suitably haunting postscript after Bigelf is done reinventing, not merely covering, Atomic Rooster's "Death Walks Behind You." And the especially memorable "Sellout" inaugurates Bigelf 's recurring fascination with stardom's irresistible lure and inevitable moral decadence (later dissected even more capably by cuts like "Rock & Roll Contract" and "Money, It's Pure Evil"), not that these guys would have recognized stardom at this point, had it slapped them across the butt-cheeks. All in due time, though, and there's no doubt that Money Machine saw Bigelf inching closer to their lofty goals, one song at a time.

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