On self-imposed exile in England yet still obsessed with industrial America, Dave Thomas looks back to his hometown and finds that it's not what it used to be. The factories are still there, still belching out smoke to the heavens. There are still vast landscapes of concrete and steel. The difference is, it's all been homogenized, run through the grinder of corporate consumer culture. Although he's half a world away, he doesn't like what he sees, and that's the essence of Pennsylvania, Pere Ubu's eleventh album in 20 years. It's a return to the clastrophobic, complex, darkly paranoid sound of their early albums; only occasionally is it graced with the relatively tamed alterna-pop stylings that marked their early-'90s records. Thomas, thankfully, hasn't abandoned his satiric wit, and that's what makes Pennsylvania provocative, not insular. It's been many years since Pere Ubu has delivered a record as sweeping in lyrical and musical scope as Pennsylvania, and it's been worth the wait.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine