Guitarist Chuck Hahn exited for Thing of Beauty, replaced by David Kleiler, who contributes a fair amount of the songwriting. Farced was fine in its own right, but the double record Thing of Beauty tops its predecessor in consistency and songwriting. The often clever and sharp lyrics -- which were obviously more thought out here than on Farced -- are easier to discern. There's also more concern with melody. As with all double records, there's a few things worthy of skipping through, but most of it is durable. Each of the four sides barrel through without reaching dullness, only with the weirdo percussion instrumental "Malamondo" breaking up the flow. It's the most subdued of their records, but the rowdy abandon is still evident throughout highlights like "Barricade," "Rite of Way," and "Now File." On the last side, they run through a patch of covers. Their take on Brian Eno's "Needles in the Camel's Eye" turns the original into a merry singalong. The group vocal behavior also aids the version of Devo's "Red Eye Express," and "Kick Out the Jams" almost matches the breathless energy of the MC5. Thing of Beauty also closes out the "Fort Apache trilogy" -- Bumper Crop and Farced being the previous records recorded at the infamous Massachusetts studio.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman