Quasi

The Sword of God

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    8
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Quasi, the duo comprised of Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss and Elliott Smith bassist Sam Coomes, returns after a lengthy absence with their fifth outing overall, and their Touch & Go debut. After such a lengthy break, Quasi reveal how much they've grown as a collective. Make no mistake, The Sword of God is as zany -- or more so -- than any of the band's previous efforts. Weiss has become a stomping drummer, a poignant, ironically comedic lyricist, and a smart-assed vocalist, and Coomes has become a smoking guitar player and a proficient if not deft keyboardist, with a penchant for wiseacre humor that picks out the detritus of pop culture and lampoons it to death, as on "Fuck Hollywood" or "Rock & Roll Can Never Die." That's not to say there isn't any "serious" music on The Sword of God, because the darkness-obsessed tracks are here too, such as "It's Raining," "From a Hole in the Ground," and the supremely melancholy "Introduction." There's even a cinematically atmospheric feel to many of the tunes, as sound effects are readily employed for nuance and texture. It's just that, even on the darker emotional landscapes, Quasi has this remarkable tendency to keep the music upbeat and swinging. The only outside appearance here is in the form of a saxophone solo on the album's final track by Stanley Zappa. Quasi is a rock band without a mission and, as such, they make music that is texturally fascinating and intellectually stimulating -- because of their (often crass) humor and their absolute knowledge of rock and pop clich├ęs from the '60s to the present. This may not be their best offering, but it's a truly fine record that offers plenty in the way of satisfaction.

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