Mega City Four


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A three-year layoff hasn't eroded Wiz's knack for songwriting. The change on this fifth LP is the in-your-face, quasi-Albini production from usual guy Chris Potter, which takes some getting used to and makes Soulscraper seem mordant and impenetrable. But this abrasiveness is perfect for the three singles, such as the maddened, onrushing "Skidding" and "Superstar," which threaten to run away from listeners' stereos. And like Bob Mould (MC4 covered Hüsker Dü in 1992), the Megas leave the pack of U.K. bands behind when Wiz's agonized lyrics meet the gut-wrenched guitars, a true soulscraping combo. Whether it's the icy opening line on the closer, "Picture Perfect" ("She loves him and he loves someone else/Loves the one who only loves herself"), the anxious, aggrieved waltz "I Know Where You Live" ("Where do we go from here?/Without opening wounds that've scarred me for years?"), or the heavy "Walking Glass" ("How come you always blow your chances?/Guess wrong, and press for self-destruction?"), Wiz's troubled, sympathetic, and frustrated voice howls from the darkness of relationships that misstart or teeter on the brink of faltering, and as he sorts through the eggshells, his mates' tight post-punk attack propels a remarkable band who is as aggressive and fervid as they were. When will someone sign them here, already? Soulscraper kicks nervous-system butt.

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