Gabay is out and George Javori is in on the drumming tip, among numerous others, but Firewater still swings with the best of them, as The Ponzi Scheme shows in spades. A near perfect film noir start, sleazy sax, and Duane Eddy-meets-piano line and more with the aptly titled "Ponzi's Theme" gets things going -- Tod A himself sits this number out vocally, letting everyone vamp and snarl with the best of them before cutting loose on "Green Light (In Stereo)." His raspy charisma remains in full effect, while musically there are hints of Nick Cave's various musical fusions and a relatively more conventional rock approach to boot. Even if The Ponzi Scheme doesn't totally threaten and artistically intrigue like Get Off the Cross did, though, it's still a good time had by all. Doug Henderson once again does a fantastic job on production, while Sylvia Massy adds a bit of mixing here and there, all letting the strengths of the band burst through with its usual aggressive liveliness. Admittedly, hearing downright peaceful chiming on "Caroline" and poppy '60s-style grooves on "So Long, Superman" is more than a little surprising from the guy who once spat out tracks like "10 Dollar Bill," but time does change things. Standout tracks litter the album -- "Dropping Like Flies" is particularly great, both a strong, kicking rocker and a carefully arranged orchestral creep-out, strings adding a subtle bite to Tod A's increasingly desperate singing. Indeed, both Hahn Rowe's violin work and the regular guest appearance of cellist Jane Scarpantoni provide some of The Ponzi Scheme's best moments, like the ruined sea chantey "Isle of Dogs." There's the galumphing horn section from the circus-gone-wrong of "El Borracho" and the perfect title for the final song, "Drunkard's Lament," to name two other fun highlights of this most cool album.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett