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It's shocking that this Chicago institution's latest re-formation has them on ongoing speaking terms for three years, let alone making their first LP in 21 -- let alone it being equally as good as their remarkable past! It had been said that they would revisit 1984's first LP For Ever Grounded, a midpoint between two earlier EPs' blistering punk (see Remains Nonviewable) and the post-punk brilliance of 1985's Fly on a Wire and 1986's Ink. But on Reside, third guitarist Robert McNaughton fuses Earl Letiecq's meaty, Ruts-like early roar/charge with the later Robert O'Connor's more ringing chordings. One is transformed by McNaughton's spitting tour de force of darting, flashing, shimmering, and shaking. This may be the most headphones-demanding loud guitar record in years, to get McNaughton's full soundwaves on rippin' songs such as "Haz-Mat" and "Night Train." Meanwhile, the three older members return, and 2007's Effigies again perfect their rock-solid, slamming mix of punk's power rush and post-punk's rhythmic approaches (from Gang of Four, PIL, and Killing Joke). Steve Economou is still a "leadfoot" for his pulverizing kick-pedal, lending the Effigies their overriding strength. Paul Zamost is as nimble on bass as Economou is punishing. And the band's uniqueness remains frontman John Kezdy's uncompromising vocals and supreme intelligence -- rare for any rock band. One of the best '80s lyric sheets has lost nothing in two decades as a prosecutor. If anything, his inside view has sharpened his revulsion for his region's systemic corruption dating to Al Capone, once expressed in "We're da Machine" and "Quota," as the fed up "This is war!" declarations of "Guv'ner" make clear. But he's more philosophical in his 40s, retaining his cut-through-the-BS attitude, judging from the self-incriminating "The Full Weight of Failure" and "Scarecrow," the revenge-alluding "Cold Plate," and the biting-sober romance-soured judgment of "Baby Sleeps Alone." Contemporaries such as Buzzcocks, Radio Birdman, Mission of Burma, and T.S.O.L. had already proven that bands could regain bygone inspiration on LP. But by picking up on 1986, not 1981, thus seizing their own thread never continued, the Effigies have no modern stylistic peers. And like Ink, it will take several plays before the layers of Reside's smarts and subtleties become as apparent as their strident authority.

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