Cop Shoot Cop

Release

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What turned out to be the band's last album before the group rather messily collapsed was, in essence, Cop Shoot Cop holding steady at what it does, almost. Though there was one major change that seemed to go against the group's entire aesthetic -- after going its entire lifetime without one, they incorporated a guitarist, Steve McMillen, into the lineup. Given how Cop Shoot Cop had evolved its own unique sound out of the basses, drums, and samplers from the original members, becoming more of a straight-ahead rock group inevitably made the band a little less special. Songs like "Two at a Time" almost seem to be turning into the corporate alternative sound they implicitly trashed on Ask Questions Later's "Seattle." This said, the bass work of Natz (now named Nantz, oddly enough) and Tod A still explodes like nobody's business, and heavy rhythms rather than riff action still dictate the general course of Release. Dave Sardy's strong co-production with the band is appropriately focused and brute when it needs to be, but enough low-key touches appear throughout, such as the piano lurking in the mix of the amusingly titled "It Only Hurts When I Breathe." Perhaps the best combination of restrained menace and noise is "Lullaby," where the simple piano figure and Tod A's almost singsong vocals completely contrast the vicious words and band performance. The lyrics throughout are much less explicitly focused on political or wider social concerns, instead tackling internal collapses and screwups, characters worth loathing or portraits of people on the edge ("Any Day Now" is especially great, listing a series of promises that may never be filled). A side note has to be given for Release's artwork, done by most of the band in concert with a metalworker. The crisp, hatched lettering on a variety of surfaces works well as art in and of itself -- a distinct bonus.

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