The blueprint for Jason Slater's Snake River Conspiracy is Garbage, and like that group's leader Butch Vig, he has found himself a female lead singer, Tobey Torres, to front the band and add an appealingly human element to his densely arranged rock tracks, which take off from industrial noise into many other areas. Slater may have spent a long time listening to Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, but he also has an underlying pop sensibility that leans toward kitsch: two songs borrow elements from movie music, with an excerpt from John Barry's "Goldfinger" theme providing the sweeping hook for "Strangled"; "Somebody Hates You" dips into light Europop here and there; and "You and Your Friend," which should be a single, shows that Slater has a feel for the throbbing sound of Dusty Springfield as filtered through Chrissie Hynde. The actual first single is "Vulcan," an expletive-strewn hard rock number that seems intended to establish the group's claim to alternative edginess. But at least initially, college radio was responding to the cover of the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?," suggesting that programmers may have a better sense of Snake River Conspiracy's attempt to straddle styles than the marketing executives at its record company. The intention is to appeal to a broad range of tastes, but the danger is that the band's sound may be too hard for pop fans and too soft for rock fans. What listeners think will depend a lot on which tracks they get to hear. Perhaps because it is the creation of a sole studio maven, Snake River Conspiracy is more a collection of interesting musical ideas than a coherent band, at least on its first album.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann