The return of Crispy Ambulance to full activity -- much like that of fellow Manchester cult act the Chameleons -- was heralded first by live work and then a surprisingly worthy studio album. After so many "reunions" have proven to be mere sops or time killers, Scissorgun is one of those rarities, a studio effort that stands up to the earlier days with respect. With production help from 808 State member and longtime fan Graham Massey, continuing his partnership with the band from the Accessory After the Fact concert document, the quartet tackles a set of songs with the same nervous, dark energy that characterized its best work at the start of the '80s. Hempsall's singing is still roughly powerful but a bit clearer and more conventionally tuneful, all without sounding like he's interested in well-crafted pub rock or any similar abomination. Davenport's guitar work reworks the epic aspirations of post-punk-era guitar brilliantly, while the Darbyshire/Madeley rhythm section has a bite and impact Steve Albini could easily appreciate. Overall, Scissorgun has a good live sound to it, whether it's the crisp delicacy of the cymbals leading into the brawling drum punch on "Loupgarou," the truly beautiful and majestic guitar on "Heatwave," or much more besides. The opening surge of "Step Up!," pulsing bass loops and gentle bells contributing to the direct flow of the song, starts everything off on the right foot, and it continues from there in fine fashion. The tribal rhythms and sharp singing on "Re-Animator" and the fierce all-around performance on "End Game" find the band readily recapturing its earlier spirit without simply rewriting the past, while "Parallax" almost finds Crispy Ambulance trying its version of power pop, though very much on the band's own particular terms. More bands half Crispy Ambulance's age should sound so alive -- and so willing to end an album with an obscure, obscene Jerry Lewis sample.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett