Crucifucks

Wisconsin

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With a revamped line-up, Shelley having headed off to New York anchor Sonic Youth's unstable drum position, Dart led his merry crew down less immediately punk roads, exploring a variety of other approaches, from semi-boogie to acoustic folkiness, towards the same ends. Dart now sounds like he's been listening to his Buzzcocks records -- the wail is tempered with just a touch more heartfelt soul, in prime Pete Shelley style. His lyrics still have quite a bone to pick with the established orders of society, but often in a more one-to-one mode, as ready to question other's motives in the struggle as those they struggle against. "Artificial Competition" is the most cutting of such songs, with lyrics asking some heavily self-publicizing types "Did you lift a finger/When they came after me?" Then again, there's "Pig in a Blanket" -- "What about the copter crash/That took off piggy's head?/We celebrated all weekend/Now we're glad that he is dead." The rest of the band might have listened in to some Buzzcocks at points as well -- if it's not exactly power-punk-pop, it's still catchy enough, even more so than on the debut. Flanged solos crop up here and there, a little more classic rock rave-up crunch, or alternately some slow monster stomp -- it's a mix that works nicely. The first album was by no means monochrome, but everything feels much more readily of a piece here, of a band trying what works and coming up with some satisfying results, like the fine guitar on "Laws Against Laughing." "When the Top Comes Off" is an anthemic blast as well, with Dart at his Shelleyesque best and the band really letting loose, including both hyperblast and a just-calm-enough-before-exploding midsection, with a vicious Dart rant to top it all off.

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