Made in Mexico's debut album Zodiac Zoo is the exact antithesis of its mock-pastoral cover photo depicting the bandmembers at leisure with a lovely picnic spread in a garden setting; that is, it's an all-out assault on the senses and sensibilities -- which should come as no surprise to those acquainted with spazz-punk sonic terrorists Arab on Radar, with whom the band shares an affiliation. On the album cover they look like such sweet kids, the kind you'd invite to your pre-teen's birthday party, who would then set up their instruments and proceed to irrevocably damage the innocent attendees' fragile psyches for the rest of their shell-shocked lives. Zodiac Zoo begins with the sound of a stylus hitting a crackly record and an out-of-tune raga on acoustic guitar, a brief lull before the maelstrom hits: pummeling rhythm section straight out of a Jesus Lizard track, stabbing shards of fuzz guitar and incongruously choir-like vocals. And so it continues: vocalist Rebecca Mitchell alternately speak-sings in dry detachment or warbles and shrieks like Diamanda Galás (with Lydia Lunch's range) in a back alley brawl, depending on the vehemence of the moment. The guitar sounds like it's being swung around by its loosened strings, the bass like it's being hit with a rubber mallet, and the drums like they're being used as trampolines by a free jazz maniac attempting the Stooges catalog. And if the above descriptions sound appealing -- and they're not meant to discourage -- then this album will not disappoint. Made in Mexico is a catharsis for misanthropes and stress-cases everywhere, and is guaranteed to rile the savage beast in all of us.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Way