Naked Raygun

Understand?

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AllMusic Review by

The most striking aspect of Quarterstick's reissue of Understand? is the two bonus tracks that come at the end of the album. Recorded live at Chicago 's Riviera Theater in November 1987, the spirited performances of "Mr. Gridlock" and "I Don't Know" blast through the speakers with an ardent fury that all of the tracks on Understand? so desperately lack. In a word, the live material cuts to the heart of what plagues Understand?, a record that is dull, idle, and plain boring when measured against the albums that precede it. Missing from most tracks are the witty lyrics, guttural attack, and edgy melodies that make Naked Raygun's Throb Throb, All Rise, and Jettison must-have records. Instead of driving the music, or lending structural tension and opposition, the guitars on Understand? act like a sinker and weight the songs down. Jeff Pezzati's vocals aren't as cutting or cunning as they could be, and occasionally ("Wonder Beer," for example), are artificial and laughable. While there are a few gems to be heard, such as the stop-start propulsion of "Hips Swingin'," the majority of the material on Understand? is drawn-out and structurally conventional, characteristics normally not associated with Naked Raygun. Add the fact that Understand? is horridly recorded, and sounds soft on whatever playback system it is put through, and the result is an exercise in mediocrity.

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