The Joykiller


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Though no songs are as great as the four or five amazing songs like "Sad" on the second LP, Static, Three is an uncommon U.S. work. This LP is gutsy: By recording for Epitaph, the recognizable punk label, singer Jack Grisham is attempting, as he did so incredibly with the original T.S.O.L., to substantially broaden that audience's horizons -- perhaps too much. Sure, 1983's Beneath the Shadows is now venerated as a watershed in U.S. punk history, but its Damned-inspired keyboards and psychedelic pop guitar prevalence were despised when the bugger was released. If anything, Three is even more out on a limb. Go down to the local punk dive, and one isn't going to hear "The Doorway" coming through the doorway, with its synth, pretty piano, acoustic guitar, harmonica solo, and snap drumming. Or take in those bright bells on "She's Something Else" and the shining wall of background synth on "Your Girlfriend." This is as progressive as the form gets while still being good. If anything, Three revisits the territory of 1984 demos by Grisham's first post-T.S.O.L. band, Cathedral of Tears (before they changed lineups and completely botched their lone EP). Grisham is still pushing the envelope as far as possible, in a brazen, brave attempt to keep the crunch and immediate high of all great punk (like the earliest T.S.O.L.) while letting in more reflective, pretty, and tormenting/agonizing elements. It's a question whether this resolute LP -- which not only bucks the trends of the punk scene, but the entire indie rock and rock scenes themselves -- can find an ample throng of humankind willing to bite its boldness. But bless Grisham and mates for not caring whether Three does or not. They know they're doing superlative work.

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