L7

Hungry for Stink

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Following their breakthrough third set, 1992's Butch Vig-produced Bricks Are Heavy, L7 issued the hulking Hungry for Stink. Although the album was less favorably received by critics for failing to maintain Bricks' momentum, Stink stands as one of the crunchiest, grimiest, and nastiest selections in their decades-long catalog. The albums that followed -- 1997's The Beauty Process and 1999's Slap-Happy -- expanded the band's horizons and wiped away some of the sludge, opting for softer tones, fresh genre touches, and even slow almost-ballads. Thus, Hungry for Stink benefits from a hindsight, big-picture view, especially considering menacing thrills like "Andres," "The Bomb," "Fuel My Fire," and "Freak Magnet." As Suzi Gardner's guitar buzzed and the aggressive rhythm section of Jennifer Finch and Dee Plakas grooved and pounded, vocalist Donita Sparks' throat-shredding growls and howls were at their prime. As the prelude to subtle stylistic changes on the horizon, the effort included a couple hints at where L7 were headed, such as the epic "Questioning My Sanity," which stretched Sparks' vocals by whipping from ethereal coos to stuttered gurgles while funhouse sound effects amplified the insanity. Stink's overall mélange drew upon the sleaziest corners of everything from Nirvana and Hole to Nick Cave and White Zombie. While not as crisp and catchy as Bricks Are Heavy, Hungry for Stink merits attention and appreciation for being the end of a certain era for the band, just as they were on the verge of a brief evolution before their two-decade hiatus.

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