The Nervous Return's La Salle/Atlantic debut carries over "Dramahead," "Murder Weapon," and "Radiate" from the Los Angeles-based band's self-released debut, augmenting them with seven fresh tracks of lyrical hedonism, prickly indie rock, and a post-punk revivalism fueled more by guitars than the rhythm-concerned groups operating out of New York City (Radio 4, for example). "So and So From Such and Such" and "Skin Flavored Lollypops" play their angular, punchy verses off ringing choruses that feature Jason Muller's voice either double-tracked or layered with the alternating vocals of bassist Anthony Crouse's. Muller approximates a breathy yelp reminiscent of Guy Picciotto for the Fugazi-ish churners "It's Not Enough" and "Radiate," while the aforementioned "Dramahead" features a great, shattered glass guitar line, and "Siberian Queer"'s pulsing beat is punctuated by feedback and red-light district lyrics about dangerous flirtations and "Mustache storm trooper"'s. Nervous Return's take on this sound -- recombining early- '90s indie rock with the raw elements that originally helped spawn it -- isn't necessarily the most hooky, or danceable and droll, like some of their peers. But there's an immediacy in Wake Up Dead's serrated edge guitars, expressive vocals, and occasionally sleazy lyrics that makes it concise and alluring. It's a fleeting, but attractive buzz.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus