S.P.U.D.

Gnaw

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The second and final album from this noisy New Zealand underground group saw them produced in a much cleaner fashion than on their debut. Giving their lurching Birthday Party-like sound a magnified sheen resulted in a sound akin to early Jesus Lizard; none of their energy and invention was lost in the graduation to high production values -- quite a feat for a post-punk noise group. The quintet builds a complex architecture of noise guitar textures over a propulsive rhythm section, providing dramatic tension to the instrumental arrangements, and giving vocalist Glen Campbell space enough to exercise one of the most unique vocal instruments. On "Recliner," the chaos of Sonic Youth circa EVOL meets speed metal precision; "Creep" is the most turgid riff the Melvins must wish they had written. Typical of Flying Nun groups, they seem to exist ten years ahead of their time. With this album they may have scored few fans outside of their home country, but among them are Sonic Youth and Steve Albini, both institutions who have cited this album as a noise rock classic of the highest caliber.

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