If proof is needed that the ‘90s alt rock revival is well on its way, it comes in the form of Violent Soho’s self-titled second album. A reworking of their 2008 debut We Don’t Belong Here with re-recorded and new tracks, Violent Soho looks to the days when grunge was king, serving up songs about girls, Jesus, and serial killers set to buzzsaw guitars, lumbering basslines, and loud-quiet-loud dynamics. This is the band’s first album for Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace! label, which is fitting -- his imprint has also released similarly retro alt/grunge music from Be Your Own Pet’s Jemina Pearl and Pagoda, the band of Michael Pitt (who also starred in Last Days, Gus Van Sant’s film inspired by Kurt Cobain). Violent Soho is also descended from a fairly long line of Australian bands, including You Am I, the Vines, and Silverchair, who at one point or another in their careers, used grunge as the foundation of their music. The sludgy “Here Be Dragons,” in particular, sounds a lot like the Vines, minus their angst and the wide-ranging ambition that made that band occasionally confounding and fascinating. Violent Soho’s lack of angst and pretension go a long way on “Jesus Stole My Girlfriend,” a Pixies-meets-Nirvana-meets-Weezer mix of strutting power chords and shrieked choruses, and on “Generation”’s snotty vocals and handclaps. The band tosses in a couple of slow songs (“Muscle Junkie” and the cello-driven ballad “Outsider”) for range, but no matter how impressive their screeching and riffs are on “Love Is a Heavy Word” and “Bombs Over Broadway,” the traced-over feeling of many of these songs is inescapable. Though Violent Soho does a pretty convincing job of bringing this sound back, merely reviving it isn’t enough.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares