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Released in 1992, Ventriloquist is a transitional album both in terms of personnel -- original drummer Roy Llerandi was replaced by Bill Beeman at some point during the recording sessions, and both appear on the album -- and Vertigo's own place in the post-Nevermind landscape. At the time of its self-titled first album, Vertigo was a small, struggling band in a non-commercial backwater of a music industry more concerned with the likes of Nelson and C+C Music Factory. In 1992, however, that peculiar year in which any dude in a flannel shirt and Doc Martens could get a major-label recording deal, Vertigo was a small, struggling band smack in the middle of The Next Big Thing, and the schizoid Ventriloquist reflects that. Some of the songs are straightforward alt-rock that would have sounded great on MTV's 120 Minutes -- the opening "Love Withdrawal" features a killer reverbed guitar hook, and "Burnin' Inside" masters the always tricky ironic headbang -- but the rest of the album, including the dully ugly "Rocket V" and the just plain dull "Planet Earth," is third-rate material by a band that doesn't seem to want to follow the art punk vibe of its debut anymore but doesn't know where to go from there.

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