SSM

Break Your Arm for Evolution

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    7
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AllMusic Review by

SSM's blend of electronic sheen, prog rock sonic wanderlust, and punk rock wallop remains a potent combination on their second full-length album, 2008's Break Your Arm for Evolution, and if this doesn't push the group's musical boundaries terribly far beyond what they accomplished on their previous releases, it demonstrates they're writing and playing better than ever. Marty Morris, Dave Shettler, and John Szymanski have learned the fine art of honoring their myriad musical influences while twisting the shapes into new angles, and though the common link between this album's nine tunes is that you can dance to all of them, they each shake it out in different and distinct ways. The geeked-out guitar-fueled gangsterism of "Regenerate Your Face" probably wouldn't occur to very many acts besides these guys, "Déjà Vu" is so new wave you can practically hear the skinny tie rustling against the cheesy synthesizers, "Start Dancing" could pass for a long-lost Suicide track in dim light, "Marian" is a tribute to some righteous soul fan that generates a potent booty-shaking groove, and "Now We're Six" takes A.A. Milne places he's never been before. The production (by SSM with some help from Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys) manages to sound full-bodied, clear, and just the right kind of trashy at the same time, and the jams hit a graceful balance between funky and clever -- Break Your Arm for Evolution is that rare album that promises if you free your ass your brain will follow, and the best moments deliver on that heady guarantee.

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