Jacob's Mouse

Wryly Smilers

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    6
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A slightly random but still worthy collection of cuts from singles and elsewhere, though not specified as such anywhere on the cover, Wryly Smilers -- like Jacob's Mouse's other releases, clocking in at an economical half-hour length -- finds the group still up to enjoyable business. There's a slightly more mature sound to things, though more accurately that can be chalked up to a decision to let some vocals come through with a relative smoothness. It doesn't keep the trio from still rocking out like a bastard, though, and that it does, its wild and wired sound again spiked here and there with diverse touches: slashing lead acoustic guitar, random spoken-word parts from unidentified female guests, varying mixing levels for the vocals. At times, admittedly, they're the most straightforward and catchily rock they've ever been, with the thrashing crunch of "Palace" almost radio-friendly, at least in their own to-heck-with-you, crank-the-amps way. "Palace" also plays around with metal mania in great ways -- the amount of monster echo on the vocals practically invokes the gods down from Olympus. Then again, the unrestrained mania apparent on tracks like "B12 Marmite," which spikes its wiry, crazed sections with unnervingly calm spoken-word parts, and the merry-then-flailing crash and skip-along that's "Keen Apple" show that Jacob's Mouse aren't really interested in unit shifters, bless their souls.

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