Arcwelder

Jacket Made in Canada

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

The title alone is a winner, referring to the omnipresent logo on tons of indie rock releases from the mid-'80s on (check any Touch and Go release for an example). The music itself, meanwhile, continues in the catchy, not-just-punk vein of This. The opening number "Harmonic Instrumental," for instance, which is in fact laden with lyrics, has Macdonald whipping up wry sentiments with a gang-shout chorus as the music rocks with a fierce control (the guitar sounds like it's moving in a lock-step circle -- finally, a clear demonstration of what is meant by angular riffs!). That the next number begins with acoustic guitar before kicking in completely shows again that the canny trio will never just go ahead and crank to ten when they can have some other fun. Some of the brute power that Arcwelder can stir up places them next to contemporaries Fugazi easily, while sometimes it seems clear that members of Helmet and the Smashing Pumpkins kept an ear open as well for their goings on ("Missing" and "Plastic" could almost be tunes from Gish, vocals and less solipsistic lyrics aside). The perhaps inevitable Husker Du comparisons surface as well -- at least, it's hard to think of anyone other than Bob Mould after songs like "Staback." Softer numbers as "Left" and "When You're Gone" aren't any less forceful, just a touch more subtle, avoiding jangle for crispness. The latter is especially good, rueful without being dramatically weepy; it's just cryptic enough, with a fine Macdonald vocal. Brian Paulson is once again behind the boards, turning in other fine piece of production work, bringing out everything just as it needs to be. Add in a fun piece of mock cornpone ("I Hates to Lose," sung with a nutty twang), and Jacket is a great little kick of a record.

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