Live, Count Zero kick up an impressive blend of Wire's uncompromising angularity, the unapologetic love for the groove of prime New Order, and the Butthole Surfers' edge-of-madness experimental noise breaks. On their first album, 2001's Robots Anonymous, all of those elements (along with some tongue-in-cheek proto-punk moves along the lines of very early Devo) were present and accounted for, but they never quite jelled, making the album something of a treasure hunt. The first impression of the follow-up, Little Minds, is that it sounds disappointingly restrained, perhaps in response to the debut. The Boston-based sextet has dialed back on the dance music aspect of its sound just as A Certain Ratio copyists like Radio 4 and !!! have raised danceable post-punk to its highest level of exposure in decades. (On the up side, at least know-nothing critics won't claim that Count Zero are ripoff artists.) Singer/songwriter Peter Moore is in a more reflective frame of mind this time around, making the melodic heft of songs like "Bite Off the Roses" and "My Little Mind" run higher than before. The clinical production maintains the songs' appealing level of coolly detached chilliness, but it unfortunately also sharply decreases the unexpected left turns and abstract, noisy passages that used to be Count Zero's primary stock in trade. As a result, Little Minds most closely parallels the Loud Family's brainy take on indie rock, albeit without Scott Miller's gift for the occasional hummable tune. Although Little Minds is an improvement over the frustratingly scattershot Robots Anonymous, Count Zero almost certainly have a much more fearlessly experimental and musically mature record than this in them.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason