Live Skull

Positraction

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

The final Live Skull album showed that the quintet didn't merely go down fighting, but outright brawling, able to suggest everything from punk antecedents to, oddly enough, U2 dedicated to the art of rampage. That may sound a strange comparison, but the advantage is that Zedek sounds nothing like Bono, and, more to the point, the band suggests a variety of early-80s U.K. post-punk riffers (Gene Loves Jezebel, Siouxsie and the Banshees, even early Cult) without sounding like a goth band per se. There's very much the same sense of bright, hyper-trebly guitar slashing through the mix, semi-tribal rhythm rumble, and more adding to this sense of dramatic darkness, with Zedek's singing making for the unexpected twist, not conventionally goth in its husky appeal. The result spikes up "Sunday Afternoon Whiteout" and "Safe From Me," to name two songs, with an energy that steers away from many indie rock groups of its time. The Birthday Party might be the best comparison, to an extent -- Zedek does have something of Nick Cave about her, though not entirely, while the band itself doesn't quite show the Australians' full range. But the energy and dark beauty is all there, infusing even the calmer moments like "Riches House" with a slightly twisted blues/cabaret feel. Live Skull keeps its own individual flair, though, resulting in sometimes quite beautiful numbers as "Amputeased," which could almost be their version of a ballad and which helps forecast, a little bit, where Zedek would go with Come in future. That the group keeps the songs fairly short and compact is to its advantage; not a note feels wasted, and the quintet does a great job at setting up the atmosphere of a song and then carrying it through. CD versions of Positraction include Snuffer as a bonus.

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