Royal Trux

Veterans of Disorder

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With 1998's excellent Accelerator, Royal Trux completed their rock history trilogy and returned to Drag City. On Veterans of Disorder -- the title of which attests to the band's mix of classic rock and noisy experimentation, and to their status as survivors of their own chaotic excesses -- the Trux move forward and look back at the same time. Splitting the difference between their increasingly focused yet subversive rock and their early, sludgy experimentalism, Veterans of Disorder begins with seven (relatively) radio-friendly versions of the Trux aesthetic. "Waterpark" is an almost-straightforward raw charge led by Neil Hagerty's driving guitars and Jennifer Herrema's sultry, snarling vocals; the sexy "Second Skin" follows suit, and the duo shares vocal duties on "The Exception" and "Yo Se!"'s the Glimmer Twins-style funk. Latin percussion adds a twist to "Lunch Money," while "Witch's Tit" and "Stop" show off Royal Trux's softer side. None of these songs last longer than three and a half minutes, but the group crams as many big guitars and weird ideas as they can into these "singles." The album's second half returns to Twin Infinitives-era noise jams for inspiration, especially on the shambolic "Sickazz Dog." Herrema's wonderfully sneery vocals on "Coming Out Party" serve sharp-tongued lyrics like "He's going to be a playboy in his mind/He's trying to pretend he's making friends," while "Blue Is the Frequency" mixes jazz, cock rock, and a bit of slide guitar into a nearly nine-minute workout. Though the album sounds cleaner and more focused than anything Royal Trux released on Virgin, it's the duo's closest tie to their trashy underground roots. One of their most accomplished works, Veterans of Disorder could only be made by artists as creatively and financially independent as Royal Trux.

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