Angel Food

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Space Mountain was a giddy trip, but Angel Food is just plain great. One of the best rock albums of 1992, if easily one of the most unknown, Angel Food finds Hypnolovewheel firing on all fours. Lou Giordano's production serves the band well again -- his higher-profile effort that year was on Sugar's Copper Blue, but his skills are arguably on better display here, channeling the energy of the quartet into a smart, snarling monster. Steering firmly away from the already done-to-death loud/soft/loud cliches of the grunge universe, Hypnolovewheel finds more creative ways around tension. Good examples include the blithe singing on "Here Comes a Headache," skipping as lightly over garage punk feedback as acoustic guitars and the wordless but winning backing vocals on the tight little romp "Under Water." Then there's "Candyman," which has to be one of the best Fall parodies/homages ever recorded (love that piano!). If there's a touch less overt humor than before, it's not absent entirely, sometimes more apparent in the amusing delivery and arrangements (thus the just-wacky-enough delivery of the chorus on "Wow") than anywhere else. One song, "Big Bang Theory," actually starts off sounding uncannily like Pulp's wonderful "Babies" before shifting into a worthy effort of its own good-natured singing over some smart fuzz-guitar lines and almost shoegaze-level glaze. Indeed, there's a bit of a dream pop crunch throughout Angel Food, a nice change in style on the band's part that doesn't feel like an opportunistic twist, more a way to try out new approaches. Some other high points: the gentle yet just spiky enough "Bridget Because," with some fine vocals, almost beautifully sighed more than sung, and the just plain great album closer "What's Going On" -- not the Hüsker Dü song, but easily as good.

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