Following up on their fine 1990 debut, Nine-Volt Grape, and a 1992 single, "Mouth of Hell," that's one of the great lost 7"s of '90s power pop, Boston quartet Miles Dethmuffen released their second album, Clutter, at the dawn of the post-grunge resurgence of the pop underground. Indeed, Clutter was the first album released on the Rainbow Quartz label, which would go on to become one of the key imprints of the entire scene. Unfortunately, Miles Dethmuffen never quite broke through beyond a small cult audience; in retrospect, it seems likely that the nonsensical name did them no favors, which is probably a big part of why they changed their name to Permafrost for their final release, 1997's In Harm's Way. This is more of a shame for the pop underground as a whole because Clutter is a minor power pop classic that sidesteps most of the genre's faults. There's no sense of revivalism or mimicry in these songs, nothing that hints at what singer/songwriters Ad Frank's and Linda Bean Pardee's own favorite bands are. Just as importantly, Frank and Pardee shun the usual cars-and-girls lyrics in favor of enigmatic and often downcast character studies like "Flat-Chested Girl" and "Hope I Don't Spend All My Money on Liquor." Touches like the saxophone on that song, cello on the title track, and various keyboards throughout the album also broaden the album's sound beyond the usual two guitars, bass, and drums. Clutter may not be the most upbeat power pop album of all time, but heck, Big Star themselves weren't exactly shiny happy people.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason