The Mekons were still dealing with the legal battle to free themselves from their ill-advised deal with Loud Records (a short-lived, Warner-distributed "alternative" imprint, not to be confused with the hip-hop label that signed Wu-Tang Clan) and get I Love Mekons released when they wrote and recorded Retreat From Memphis, and the strain shows in the music. Retreat From Memphis is direct, straightforward, and angry in a way the Mekons had not been for quite a while; with Suzie Honeyman and her fiddle making only a few cameo appearances, the twangy undertow of Fear and Whiskey and Honky Tonkin' was gone, and the dub-wise studio experimentation of F.U.N. '90 and Curse of the Mekons was put on hold in favor of a more traditional guitars/bass/drums/ranting approach. And, being the punks at heart that they will always be, the Mekons make the most of their anger; if the band sounds a bit battle weary at times on Retreat From Memphis, they're also possessed of a righteous wrath, as if they were convinced this could be their last time around and they were determined to go down swinging. Retreat From Memphis was the most straightforward Mekons album since The Mekons Rock 'n' Roll, and anyone who loves that great album's blend of into-the-wind defiance and brave fatalism will find plenty to shout along with here.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming