From the moment Vic Ruggiero takes the mic on Peculiar's opening track, "86 the Mayo," there's a notable difference in sound from the Slackers' previous sets. But that's deliberate, for the band recorded this set in a very unique way. A hybrid set created from a live show recorded before a packed Dutch club, with rhythm tracks and overdubs done in the studio, the album captures the group's on-stage energy, while simultaneously offering a clarity of sound that's studio-perfect. All the better to appreciate the Slackers' superb musicianship, adroit genre shifts, and sublime crossover styling. The instrumentals showcase the former in two very different genres, "Capo" highlighting their funky, early reggae, skinhead-stomping sound, and "Sauron" their jazzy, big-band skills. "What Went Wrong," meanwhile, highlights the band's ability to meld styles on a song that begins as a rock ballad but subtly shifts into classic Stax-flavored R&B. "Wrong" is one of a clutch of relationship songs found within, but the set swings from the personal to the highly political, and in today's climes it's those latter tracks that most deeply resonate. The roots reggae "Propaganda" is the centerpiece of these concerns (its video is included), determinedly questioning the spin, platitudes, and cover-ups fed to the public, while these lies and hypocrisies are used to indict the Bush administration as "International War Criminals." Indeed the world has gone "Crazy," and to a compulsive rockers riddim that will send the skankers raving. The cover of "I Shall Be Released" ends the album on a positive note. Peculiar is a stellar set, the sound magnificent, the lyrics thought-provoking, the music sensational. And even better, it brings Hepcat's Alex Desert back to disc, the cherry on a most spectacular cake.
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene