The band's first album, the one major release featuring the original four-piece lineup, works in the same effective, compelling vein as the later In the Cold Light of Morning. If anything, the presence of Alex Vald here doesn't seem to show any difference in performance or general atmosphere -- things for the band, and especially Michael John Sheehy, again inhabit the later, familiar vein of haunted country and blues-tinged music mixing with glam/goth styles. Certainly anyone who prefers life as black as possible will find something to love in the piercing guitar abuse and chilling slow crunch of "Fifth Dealer," which makes as good a claim to be the band's highlight track as anything else. "Perfect Piece of Trash" is another on-the-edge winner, much quicker but no less screwed up, lyrics detailing an already questionable relationship going even worse wedded to a rave-up explosion. A number of efforts suggest a more strung-out but still nervous Gallon Drunk, like the creepy lounge touches on "Shit Tinged Shades," Sheehy's distorted voice sounding as out there as the deep-in-the-background feedback whine. Sheehy himself sticks to a fairly well-worn lyrical vein that won't totally surprise listeners who knows their Birthday Party and related bands, but he doesn't try to specifically sound like any of that crew so much as a side-of-the-mouth talking poet of filth with occasional tendencies to stay perfectly calm. "Porno Paradiso," in particular, lets him demonstrate both his not-bad falsetto and a generally softer approach. The musical balance between noise and dark, twangy restraint holds true pretty much for the whole release, and in the latter mode the foursome is often at its best. Consider the soft chimes and buried semi-Morricone feedback on "Because You Wanted It" or the accordion and minimal keyboard melody on "Mama," a little slice of cabaret in hell.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett