The Deadly Snakes shed their garage rock skins on the very impressive Porcella, their fourth album. While keeping their spunky and often thrilling core intact, they lower the volume and add all sorts of instrumental accoutrements like horns, strings, toy pianos, Mellotron, and harmony vocals, touches that add dimension and depth to their sound and lift the record out of the garage ghetto the band was often unjustly lumped into. That's not to say that the bandmembers have forsaken the high-energy rock & roll that got them noticed in the first place; the wall-shaking "Sissy Blues," "The Banquet," and acoustic romp "By Morning, It's Gone" take care of that aspect of the group. The rest of the record explores very melodic pop ("Gore Veil"), off-kilter acoustic blues gospel ("Let It All Go"), dramatic orchestral pop ("200 Hundred Nautical Miles"), art-damaged balladry ("High Prices Going Down," "A Bird in the Hand [Is Worthless]"), and nocturnal blue-eyed soul ("So Young & So Cruel") with a heart full of soul and a razor-sharp sound. Indeed, the band is tight and understated throughout, never letting the new style of arranging get in the way of laying down some seriously fiery music. The vocals are vastly improved on Porcella, too -- Andre Ethier's deep and yearning tones are nicely offset by Age of Danger's bratty whine. Having two vocalists as distinctive and entertaining as they are is a real plus for the band. There are obvious influences at work on the record -- at times the group (especially Ethier's voice) sounds like Nick Cave's rambunctious cousin, sometimes like a less arty Tom Waits (on "Work"), and sometimes like a time-traveling indie rock Stones, but the group blends its influences masterfully and with great imagination. Porcella is the work of a group hitting its peak in terms of songwriting, performance, and production.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra