Chainsaw Kittens

Pop Heiress

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Starting with the massive, wonderful blast of "Sore on the Floor," with Tyson Meade proclaiming over the opening din "Come on, come on, hang on, hang on!," the Chainsaw Kittens unleashed their masterpiece, as near-perfect as a should-have-been smash album could be. The group's various influences crop up more than once -- Marc Bolan would have loved hearing the stuttering strut of "I Ride Free" -- but by now, the Kittens were very much their own standard, Meade leading his merry men with skill and style. Released via Atlantic, with radio-friendly but not bland production and performances, somehow Pop Heiress missed following in the slipstream of alternative's mainstream triumph. Admittedly, Meade's unrepentant embrace of makeup and high vocals would probably freak out a fair amount of listeners from the start, but then again, isn't that the point? Keeping the same lineup from Angel on the Range, the Kittens as a whole are at their flush, exultant best. Trent Bell really comes into his own as the lead guitarist here; both he and Meade are loaded with energy to burn. Whether it's the chunky stop-start punch of "Pop Heiress Dies" or the epic wallop and feedback screams of "Burn You Down" -- gong and all -- the Kittens sound throughout like they're having the time of their lives. Besides the overwhelming glam brawlers with which the Kittens made their understandable name, the group works in a variety of other touches and approaches, taking full advantage of their major-label recording budget. "Dive Into the Sea" is especially great, with guest piano and cello performers adding to the "spotlight ballad with amplification" crush of the song, Meade turning in one of his best performances and lovedrunk lyrics. Credit also to more great song titles -- "Silver Millionaire," the fantastic "Media Star Hymn" -- and the wickedly funny cover art, a false-color image of Patty Hearst in her gun toting days.

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