Machine Gun Fellatio

On Ice

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Machine Gun Fellatio's lead singer Pinky Beecroft usually stepped aside for a couple of songs to let the band's instrumentalists or backup singers have a chance to shine, but in On Ice he's less present than ever before, often sounding distant even when he's the focus of a song. He sounds like he's phoning it in, especially in trite lyrics like, "Hey there little cutie, you're a beauty," because he literally is. Beecroft recorded his parts during a self-imposed rehab exile in Melbourne while the rest of the band continued diving into a pool full of drugs like Scrooge McDuck in Sydney. Appropriately, separation becomes a recurring theme of the album, with songs about being sent away, missing someone who is gone, and trying (and failing) to stay faithful to an absent partner. Musically, the band continues to grow more one-dimensionally rocky, adding touches of funk or techno to the occasional two-dimensional number. "Positive Song" takes this switch to the rock side and turns it up to 11; it's Machine Gun Fellatio's one full-on heavy metal song. It sounds like self-parody, not only of their slide towards heavier guitars and testosterone, but of their relatively cleaned-up lyrics. It's a song that claims to be life-affirming because it doesn't mention human sacrifice and shooting up smack, then repeats its mentions of both ad nauseam. It's one of few highlights, alongside "You've Ruined All My Favourite Songs," which takes a good idea -- that bad memories of an ex associate themselves with cursed songs you can't bear to hear any more, no matter how much you used to love them -- but doesn't do quite enough with it. A general lack of quality control makes these 18 tracks seem self-indulgent, especially the finale, "Stoner." Its evocation of the sex and drugs lifestyle that they tried to live as hard as they wrote about it is appropriate, as it was exactly what tore them apart in the end.

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