It'll Be Cool

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A case could be made for It'll Be Cool as one of Silkworm's least consistent records. Depending on the song, it's the scuzziest, messiest, prettiest, oddest one they've made. But almost all of the songs are strong -- so, in that sense, it's one of the band's most consistent records. The bulk of the first 15 minutes of the record -- excepting the strange piercing/racing patterns in "Penalty Box," which must be one of the most musically a-musical sounds ever made (is it a malfunctioning toy keyboard gone berserk, playing itself?) -- begins innocently enough, in the band's tried and true snarling form. After that, things get weird. On "Something Hyper," an old-timey, drunken-backwoods lurch of a song, a comically grumbled background vocal track trails Tim Midgett's lead and Michael Dahlquist's splashing drums repeatedly drop out to allow a mandolin and an acoustic guitar to duke it out. (It also must be said that drums recorded by Steve Albini have never sounded so Jeff Lynne-like.) The charming sloppiness of that song feeds wonderfully into "Xian Undertaker," another one featuring mandolin, where Midgett shows how his skills as a vocalist now come close to matching the passion he has had since his band began nearly two decades ago; it's also another one of the band's songs that positively resembles early-'70s Rolling Stones in soft-hued "I Got the Blues"/"Torn and Frayed"/"Winter" mode. The latter third of the record shifts back into the blaring guitars and emphatic vocals of the first third, closing out another release that continues Silkworm's extended run as masters of modern classic rock. If you are unfamiliar with the band, there are at least six other records that should get your attention before this one; just the same, this is hardly a disposable piece of the band's puzzle.

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