Lyapis Trubetskoy

Agitpop

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Belarusky ska-punk. Doesn't sound promising, does it? And yet the music on this, Lyapis Trubetskoy's heaven-only-knows-how-manyeth album (depending on which version of its discography you believe, the band has released somewhere between nine and 18) is a nonstop party of heavy guitars, militarily precise horns, shout-along choruses, and the occasional outbreak of skanking backbeats. They get bonus points for singing in Russian, and another bonus point for avoiding the frantic, headlong tempos that made so much of 1990s ska-punk boring and unlistenable. Instead, they tend to stay firmly stuck in a midtempo, punk-pop mode that works exceptionally well for them -- especially when they invest the time and effort necessary to craft really good hooks, which, as with most rock bands, is maybe 20 percent of the time. Among the golden 20 percent are the crunchy "Anarkho-Turist" (with its very fine horn chart), the straight-up punk-pop anthem "Kotik," and a brilliant, turntable-heavy remix of "Capital" that also features rapid-fire Russian rapping from Noize MC. Elsewhere they keep things maybe just a bit too simple ("Manifest") or maybe just a bit too polka-flavored ("Krex, Pex, Fex!") or just a bit too plodding ("Burevestnik"), but there's not a single track on this lengthy album that isn't a pleasure to hear, and the 20 percent of them that are brilliant make the whole disc well worth the purchase price.

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