This record actually had me checking the catalog number on the disc against the number on the spine, reassuring me that there hadn’t been some mixup at the pressing plant. This was only during the first few seconds of the first song, however. It pretty quickly became obvious that despite the different sound, these are still the Mekons.

On Me, the Mekons reinvent themselves into something new, a refreshing change from bands that change direction to become faded parodies of other, more-successful bands. The country influences that had been creeping in since the beginning of the decade are gone, replaced with a more aggressive and updated sound. The best comparison I can think of, and it’s not a very good one, is what Chumbawamba’s sound has become — a modern-day cut-and-paste that assembles something unique out of its component pieces.

Even if the sound is new, the band’s willingness to tackle relevant subjects hasn’t diminished. The ending monologue on “Whiskey Sex Shack” is frightening and uneasily humorous, and fits in with the band’s attacks on pre-millennial erosion identity by consumer culture.

The Mekons are fortunate to have a fan base that’s more intelligent than most, one that can appreciate stylistic twists and turns as signs that the band refuses to stagnate. As much as I’d like to hear another Curse of the Mekons, I heartily applaud the band for pushing themselves and their followers not only into new territory, but territory that’s unexplored and worthwhile. In a career that spans decades, the Mekons have never found themselves in an artless rut. Touch And Go Records, P.O. Box 25520, Chicago, IL 60625-0520

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