Unrest

Malcolm X Park

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Unrest's mercurial versatility was as much their greatest selling point as it was their biggest liability -- while latter-day classics like Imperial f.f.r.r. and Perfect Teeth reveal an uncommon mastery of popcraft in virtually all of its myriad forms, on early records like Malcolm X Park the band's kitchen-sink spirit was simply too far-reaching, embracing jokey hardcore, lithe instrumentals and white-noise screeds without regard for style, atmosphere, or cohesion. It's tough to criticize any band, especially one as brilliant as Unrest, for being too damn ambitious for its own good, but Malcolm X Park is at times unlistenable, let alone completely impenetrable -- lord knows what Mark Robinson's going on about here, and after the umpteenth shift in genre and approach, it's impossible to still care. There are a few standouts, however: "Can't Sit Still" and "Christina" anticipate the infectious strum-pop of the band's halcyon future, while a cover of Kiss' "Strutter" swaggers with obvious affection for its source.

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