Mental as Anything

Espresso Bongo

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After such a fantastic debut, you'd expect the Mentals to fall on their face for their sophomore release, and they almost did. Sounding like it consists of songs leftover from the sessions for their debut, Espresso Bongo does no one any favors, although it is not a bad album. Cameron Allan's production is even flatter than before, sucking almost all the excitement out of what could have been an exciting album. Martin Plaza, who dominated the first album, is buried on this one, only writing three of its 12 tracks. Slide guitarist Reg Mombassa, a great writer and original vocalist in his own right, dominates the proceedings this time out. "Troop Movements in the Ukraine," "Semitrailer," "Harmonic Visions," and the single "Come Around" are standouts on the album, though bassist Peter O'Doherty's "Away" and "The Girl" are the weakest cuts here (which he made up for on later albums by penning some of the band's finest tracks). Keyboardist Greedy Smith, like Plaza, is sorely missed with only two tracks to his credit. Still, the band doesn't fail dismally, and their natural talents are hard to miss. If only they'd get rid of that lousy producer.

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