Love Agenda

Band of Susans

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Love Agenda Review

by Ned Raggett

While Page Hamilton's work on guitar here is often referenced in stories about Helmet, the fact is that Band of Susans is very much Poss and Stenger's band, and the at-times grotesquely grinding feel of Hamilton's later work is thankfully missing in favor of the more intricate and powerful music here. The group's second full-length album is one of those creations of its time which ages well rather than sounding dated. Though you can easily imagine the band in its particular late-'80s New York context right from the first track "The Pursuit of Happiness," the squalling guitars, and Poss' just a little bit Thurston Moore-ish vocals, the fact is that this album just plain kicks out the jams; it's art that is blessedly unafraid to rock. "It's Locked Away" is a killer example of this, centered around a great riff that has much more of an angular, drony sound to it than anything else, but is wedded to a full-on crunch that also has a great groove (one of the Susans' many instrumental secret weapons) to it as well. Poss, who produced the record, mixes his vocals, as well Stenger's occasional backing efforts, fairly deep into the mix throughout the record; rather than being annoying or pointlessly obscure, it just feels right, a good way of letting his voice be another instrument to carry the songs. Perhaps to reference that fact, "Thorn in My Side" and "Sin Embargo" are both instrumentals, and are as great as the of the album. The CD version contains the band's noted cover of the Rolling Stones' "Child of the Moon," which in its guitar-overdriven way pretty much beats out the entire remake of Exile on Main St. that Pussy Galore did.

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