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Bong Review

by Ned Raggett

More a mini-album previewing Body Exit Mind than anything else -- its first two tracks, "Bong" and "It's Not What You Know," eventually turned up on that record -- Bong is still a fine slice of the snaky, clattering rock the New FADs excelled at. Spearpoint's again in fine voice, at once harsh and yet very melodious, while the band as a whole can whip up some fierce songs, as the heavy stomp and slashing guitar of the title track show in spades. The emphasis on drumming and percussion in the tracks remains supreme, though certainly Hewison's sometimes spindly and sometimes fierce riffs help in pushing the groove forward more than might be thought. "It's Not What You Know" is easily the overall highlight here, Spearpoint's portrait of a snarling then weirdly tender figure and his visions on what it takes to succeed backed by a tripped-out slow groove, Crawford's supple bass setting the off-kilter tone from the start. As for the remaining tracks, "Head On" is one of the more aggressive numbers from the band, with loud, forceful drumming and thick, compressed feedback dominating the arrangement (a sudden midsong silence provides a thrill in context). The instrumental "Beautiful" isn't quite conventionally that -- appropriately enough for the New FADs -- but does have a great, mixed-down-deep guitar lead from Hewison and a downright inspiring, energizing overall feel. "Cannes" concludes the record on an intriguing note, almost suggesting a brawling take on early-'80s Simple Minds, at once propulsive and epic-themed while still being just thrashing enough.

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