With this their third album in a mere 14 months, Mould, Hart, and Norton continued an admirable string of releases.
This time however, they decided to produce the album themselves without any interference from Spot (one of SST’s inhouse producers), who'd co-produced their previous efforts. The result is an album that sounds more polished than New Day Rising
, without losing all its punch.
The guitar sound would no longer offend anyone - for the first time they sound like real guitars, and not some sort of futuristic killing device or industrial vacuum cleaner. The drum sound on the other hand is still ridiculously flat (although a drummer was sitting in the producer’s seat). More than ever, the album’s influences are traceable, the band’s debt to The Beatles and (especially) The Byrds is more obvious than ever. However, they didn’t forget to write another bunch of catchy and rocking tracks.
The melodic title track opens the album, accompanied by sleighbells and big melodies, and it immediately sets the tone - gone is the hellish speed of their first albums, the anger and bitterness of Zen Arcade
, and the manic tightness of New Day Rising
. This album instead allows for looser songs, some fun, and even a positive mood here and there (or am I confusing that with just ‘less negativity’?).
Even better than “Flip Your Wig” is “Makes No Sense at All”, in my opinion one of their (and of the 80’s) very best songs, an instantly catchy track that’s muscular and melodic, suitably short, and in which not one note is spilled (it was released in 1990 as a double single with their stunning cover of The Byrds’ seminal song “Eight Miles High”). Equally catchy is the short “Hate Paper Doll”, a fast fun song that prepares us for another Hart highlight ...
by Reviewer: Guy Peters
(blogging at Guy's Music Review Site